UH approves "unconventional" interim president

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Jul 30 2013 09:31:00 PM HST

David Lassner has long been the University of Hawaii's 'top-techie." Now, he is being handed the school's top job, to replace outgoing president MRC Greenwood.

HONOLULU -

David Lassner has served under six University of Hawaii presidents.

By his own admission, he is an unconventional pick.

"I am probably not like any of the other presidents," Lassner said following his appointment.

Lassner hopes to pave the way for the new permanent president who is expected to be named within the year.

Lassner will focus his efforts on moving the university forward, hoping to put  "drama" behind.

The botched Stevie Wonder concert and the resulting fallout with lawmakers has left a scar.

"We do have healing to do and that probably starts with listening and establishing trusts that people’s concerns were heard," said Lassner.

In his 37 years at UH, he is proudest of building a technology system across ten campuses and establishing a statewide distance learning program.

But along the way there have been issues with security breaches.

He characterizes lost millions  over a untested BUZZEO software contract in the 1990's this way:

"We attempted to do something no one ever attempted to do before and it did not succeed. That  was not a  failure of any one person. That was an agreement to take risks and government is often unwilling to take risks and the nature of risks is not every one of them works  out," Lassner said.

The regents are taking a risk on Lassner, who up till now has had his hands full with a new technology center which is still under construction.

The project will finally pull together all the University's tech systems in one place all of which is set to happen this fall.

With his new duties, Lassner expects to find someone to take over the job of chief technology officer next month.

Meanwhile Lassner says he has no plan to move into what has been the traditional home of the UH president at College Hill.

 "I will not live there, and I have no housing allowance," he said emphatically.

He diplomatically steered clear of saying what he thinks should be its future.

Lassner officially takes over in September. MRC Greenwood steps down at the next of next month for a year-long sabbatical before taking a position at the UH medical school.

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