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Politics // The Right Price
Larry Price

What To Do With Manoa Chancellor?

It’s resolution time at the Big Square Building on South Beretania Street. Conference committees are working on their strategies and in a rush to get all bills in their final form. And the flood gates are open for the dangerous, often misunderstood resolution.

Resolutions are the “tip of the iceberg” at the legislature. If it’s not a binding resolution, then it’s nothing more than a trial balloon sent up by an interested party to see who shoots it down, who supports it, and who ignores it.

House Resolution 66 requests that the University of Hawaii Board of Regents study ending the position of chancellor of UH-Manoa, with those duties falling to the office of the president of the UH system.

UH was reorganized in 2001 with the understanding that establishing the Office of the Chancellor at Manoa would incur no additional administrative costs to the university.

At that time UH-Manoa required an annual operational budget of $14.7 million.

By 2011 it was estimated there had been more than $6.4 million in additional administrative costs at Manoa since the establishment chancellor.

Ironically, the resolution’s birth comes from state Rep. Mark Takai, who was chairman of the House Higher Education Committee at the time the Chancellor’s office was created. He now believes that since current Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw’s departure is imminent, the timing is right for UH regents to decide whether Manoa even needs the office of chancellor – and its cost.

Takai, a former UH student body president, thinks the time is right to have the regents take a stand.

The regents have not commented on the matter. UH President M.R.C. Greenwood would only say, “There’s plenty of work for both the president and the chancellor to accomplish.”

The chancellor is paid about $337,000, and the president gets more than that. At those rates, it’s good they both have a lot to do. Much of it has to do with politics and deciding on who gets what in the budget.

The faculty wants a chancellor who will back them up in university squabbles, while the president needs to think of the entire 10-campus system.

In this scenario, two heads are probably better than one. And it makes budget battles more interesting.

On the other side of the fence, a measure that would have allowed the state to drug-test public housing residents died for the session. Before the bill was officially buried, a resolution was introduced to explore whether drug screening is a good way to deter drug use among tenants, and ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t misused.

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