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UH regents urged to hire new president locally

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: May 16 2013 06:39:00 PM HST

The UH Board of Regents took the first step in finding a replacement for outgoing university president MRC Greenwood.

HONOLULU -

It was the first meeting since M.R.C Greenwood announced her retirement, and the first chance for board members to talk about a replacement.

It began with a call to look for a good communicator in our own back yard.

"Right in this very room there might just be some who will qualify to be the president of the university," said Artemio Baxa.

The outgoing regent suggested UH administrator Linda Johnshrud, and two sitting UH  board members: former U.S. ambassador John Holzman and former UH Travel Industry Management Dean Chuck Gee.

But considering sitting regents could be problematic because the board makes the final decision.

The undercurrent of politics seemed to be the order of the day.

The board planned to elect a new slate of officers but can't until July, because of a bill signed into law by the governor this week.

And UH president Greenwood made a point of warning about autonomy concerns that she said emerged in last week's WASC accreditation team visit.

"They were deeply concerned about the number of provisos in the budget and that the university's independence was indeed in question," M.R. Greenwood said.

The faculty union pointed to the lack of action by the legislature to approve a bill that would have provided $23 million to cover negotiated salary hikes.

"I assume to some degree it was an oversight, because I can’t believe it would have been a willful act to in somehow or another, take retribution to the university," said J. N. Musto of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly.

At the same time, Musto pointed out that the UH administration has not regarded the faculty union as a partner in legislative budget issues.

A new president may be on the horizon, but the funding problems may not change.

"This state, like other states, is moving into the stage where we will have to be planning the future of our programs and improvements to tuition," Greenwood said.

The board met for five hours behind closed doors to discuss a number of items including a plan to pick Greenwood’s replacement.

Chairman Eric Martinson said the the board is expected to form a selection committee and will likely call for a special meeting in the weeks to come. He could not say for sure whether a private headhunting  firm will be hired. He did say the regents wanted to be in control of the process, however after spending an hour and a half discussing the matter, he  could say that none of the regents said they were interested in being considered for the position of president.

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