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Why No Locals In The UH Chancellor Race?

It would be more entertaining if the University of Hawaii tried to cover up some of its obvious shortcomings.

The latest Manoa drama being played out before the local taxpayers is an effort at the state Legislature asking UH Board of Regents to consider eliminating the Manoa chancellor’s job at the same time it is advertising to fill the position. In an amazing display of optimism, the board has scheduled interviews with the candidates.

These power struggles are commonplace on a university campus. That’s how it’s supposed to be: drama, intrigue and controversy, with one group fighting with another. Campus protests are a part of the scene. It shows the campus is alive and its academic heart is pumping. No one agrees with anyone and teamwork is a joke.

Face the facts: A university campus is not a model for smooth transitions – it’s not supposed to be. Every new piece of research is challenged by someone, and bragging rights for whose name goes on the research is always a battle. If there are any research dollars from any effort, it has to be spent and attributed with the skill of a brain surgeon.

Even more complex is the follow-up to the research effort. How much of the research actually ends up making money or the establishment of a new industry for Hawaii? Keeping track of research dollars earned and spent is rarely discussed with naive taxpayers. Every university has a research potential, but it doesn’t always help Hawaii’s overall economy.

Historically, executives hired by the university come from the Mainland, the farther away the better. What makes this time around more worrisome is that all the candidates are at the end of their careers. Furthermore, they are all men and none is locally grown. One would think that affirmative action would be alive and well at Manoa. Affirmative action is an outgrowth of equal employment opportunity legislation. The goal of this legislation is to outlaw discrimination and to encourage organizations to proactively prevent discrimination.

It’s unbelieveable that not one of the university’s campuses has at least one local candidate for the chancellor’s job. The best they could come up with in a nationwide search is four middle-aged men from the frozen north.

Maybe the Regents will take a stand for local taxpayers.