UH Presidents, Books, Parks

M.R.C. Greenwood is stepping down as UH president | UH photo

I don’t think many non-UH-employed or -affiliated people will disagree with my assessment that the university is in extremis – most often meaning “in extreme difficulty” but also interpreted as “near death.”

It’s way behind on essential building and grounds maintenance, no state money allocated for faculty raises, and probably $13 million in athletic program debt at the end of this year.

Not all of that is president M.R.C. Greenwood’s fault, but also not much of it was corrected on her watch and so, as one of her critics and naysayers from her start in 2009, I’m pleased that she’ll retire at the end of next year. I’d have preferred earlier.

Her weak management and budget talents aside (she stunningly said she didn’t realize the Legislature wasn’t funding faculty salaries), what happens now?

We’ve had a string of bad executive choices. Kenneth Mortimer seems to have been picked mainly because he had a local wife. Evan Dobelle was legendarily bad, although one search committee member has said I’d have voted for Dobelle, too, if I’d heard his great presentation of himself during his interview.

Tom Hamilton (1963-’68) probably was our best. Then Harlan Cleveland (1969-’74) and David McClain (2004-’09.) Fujio Matsuda got along best with our Legislature but wasn’t an academic whiz.

I’ve tossed out bringing back Richard Dubanoski, retired dean of social sciences, but I know he doesn’t have multi-campus experience. I’d have made him Manoa chancellor. Tom Apple’s outsider status is killing him.

Maybe we need to entice back McClain?

Please don’t let state Senate president Donna Mercado Kim, state Sen. Malama Solomon or state Sen. Sam Slom have influence on the next pick. Too quick with unthoughtful TV sound bites.

Must it be somebody local? UH is 10 campuses and a major research facility. We’re unlikely to have a heavy hitter nearby except for McClain.

Mortimer, Dobelle and Greenwood have dented my faith forever in our presidential pickers.

This weekend is the Hawaii Book & Music Festival on the City Hall grounds.

I hope you’ll at the very least come to the Humanities Pavilion Saturday at 10 a.m. I’ll be there to talk about writing my memoir Reporter, joined by former Gov. Ben Cayetano (Ben), former judge Sandra Simms (Tales From The Bench) and UH biographer Mark Panek. This one-hour session is called “Kiss and Tell: The Naked Truth.”

Paki Park behind the Waikiki-Kapahulu Fire Station was a classy children’s playground with a first-rate bathroom. Now a lot of very scary “campers” have occupied the park grounds and the bathroom.

I no longer rate it safe for children.

My read: U.S. Rep.

Colleen Hanabusa would have had a much better shot at defeating Gov. Neil Abercrombie than U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. Schatz hasn’t been there long enough for us to have an opinion on performance.

Abercrombie definitely has been, and some rate him a has-been.