The Graduate Student Organization on campus has requested that the Board of Regent’s presidential selection committee restart its selection process.
According to an article in Civil Beat, the organization passed a resolution on Tuesday, saying the committee was not transparent in its search for a new president and didn’t engage with students and the community as was originally promised. The organization entered a vote of no confidence in the presidential selection committee.
The group’s resolution also requests that the committee stick to is original rules when restarting the search. It also included complaints such as the last-minute scheduling of the finalists’ public forums.
Regent Carl Carlson, chairman of the presidential selection committee, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the committee worked hard and is disappointed there is pushback to what the committee found. He also said there hasn’t been any talk of reopening the process.
Michelle Tigchelaar, president of GSO, said since several news outlets reported on the organization’s resolution, a number of community members have contacted her and the Board of Regents.
“I think this shows that this issue is important to the community, and that there is value in speaking up, even if we don’t get listened to,” she said. “During the next search for a high-up administrator, I’m hoping that the BOR will keep our concerns (and the community’s concerns) in mind.”
Tigchelaar said since board chairman John Holzman said the board does not intend to reopen the presidential search, GSO’s resolution is done. But, the student organization has to figure out if it wants to take any further action.
“In any case we will try to be present at the next BOR meeting later this month (date and location as of yet unknown), where both finalists will appear before the BOR for questions and comments,” she said. “We hope that in any future process, the BOR will be mindful to be fair, to listen to community concerns, and to take into account the students of this university when they schedule their events.”
The Board of Regents released the Presidential Selection Committee’s final report today, outlining how the committee arrived at the two finalists among 60 applications.
The committee announced Thursday that current interim UH President David Lassner and Retired Lt. General Francis Wiercinski are the two finalists.
Lassner was nominated in a joint letter signed by 13 deans and directors of schools and institutes on the Mānoa campus, according to the report.
Wiercinski was nominated by four individuals, including one from the military, two from the business industry and university community, and one community leader.
In March, the board instructed the search committee to provide a list of five or six candidates, from which three finalists would be selected. Those finalists’ names would then be made public and would have public meetings on the four main islands the campuses are on.
The committee compiled a list of five candidates, two of which withdrew before an interview, one citing concerns about the public nature of the search and the other wishing to pursue other opportunities.
The three remaining candidates were interviewed. Interviews were guided by the President’s Agenda and Selection Criteria as well as the Position Description.
One candidate said he would withdraw if one of the finalists was an internal candidate, which one indeed was.
The screening process
The President’s Agenda is the criteria that was used in the presidential search. It includes suggestions made by community members during the selection committee’s community outreach.
Some criteria include improving the state’s educational captial, striving for a greater focus on workforce development to double extramnural funding, advancing the university’s strategic commitment to Native Hawaiians and other indigenous and disadvantaged peoples, and being a leader.
According to the committee’s Key Selection Criteria, some qualities the next president will have are a passion to serve Hawaiʻi, undersands and respects the indigenous culture and people, and has experience with or in UH or its connections.
The search process
The search process began in June 2013. From Sept. 2013 to Jan. 2014, the selection committee conducted numerous community outreach meetings across the state to solicit public opinion.
“What came through loud and clear was that the people of Hawaiʻi wanted the search committee to select a candidate who understood and appreciated the unique culture and diversity of Hawaiʻi, was passionately committed to improving higher education in Hawaiʻi, and who was cognizant of the importance of the university to our state’s future,” the report said.
The committee also decided to not use a search firm or consultant. According to the report, the committee members they were capable of managing a search.
“This decision reflected a judgment that the best path forward would be to conduct a Hawai`i-oriented search and only if that failed would the option of retaining a national search firm be revisited,” the report said.
According to a UH news release, presidential finalists will be making campus visits throughout the month. They’ll be participating in campus public forums and meetings with students, faculty, and the community.
Campus forums on Oʻahu will begin on Tuesday and will be followed by public receptions. Other business meetings and forums will be scheduled to meet community leaders and other constituencies.
Elevators across campus are beginning to be changed out thanks to the Elevator Modernization Project, which the Facilities Management Office is overseeing.
“The (project) was instituted because the great majority of the elevators on our campus are the ones that were installed when the building was built and have gone past their life cycle expectancy,” said Tom Katsuyoshi, director of the office.
He said some of the problems with the elevators include people being trapped between floors, elevators not leveling off at the level of the floor, loud banging noises while in operation, lack of responsiveness when the call buttons are pushed and cab vibrates while in motion.
The project is intended to replace the entire elevator system, which includes cabs, pulleys, counterweights, controls, call systems, rails, hoistway systems and electrical systems.
“When the five phases of the Elevator Modernization Project are completed, it is hoped that there will be no calls for the next 10 to 20 years for the need to extricate people in an elevator,” Katsuyoshi said.
Giving the elevators a makeover
According to Katsuyoshi, the project was started three or four years ago.
“We have identified approximately 42 buildings with elevators that are problematic,” he said. “We decided to replace the elevators in these buildings in five different phases. The first phase would address the eight or nine buildings with the most problematic elevators, and each subsequent phase would address eight or nine buildings with similarly problematic elevators.”
He said the first phase should be completed before the end of the year. The second phase is about to start, and the third may start at the end of the year.
The Sakamaki elevators, which are roughly 38 years old, could be completely changed out by the end of this year and early next year, according to a previous Ka Leo article.
On March 21, ASUH senator Brenden Burk got stuck in one of the elevators for approximately an hour.
For the first half hour, he said, the power, including the lights and air conditioning ventilation, was down. He called Campus Security, who then called an elevator technician to get him out.
Burk said he was the sixth person to get stuck in a Sakamaki elevator since the beginning of the semester.
“So since the beginning of January, like when spring semester came back, every time someone got stuck, everyone in Sakamaki knows because all the office staff go out and check and people are ringing the bells,” he said.
He thinks there is a need for an elevator modernization project.
“I recognize, of course, that they are going through with this elevator renovation project and they can’t do all of the buildings at once, but you know, that’s part of the problem with having let the backlog work just grow,” he said. “Because now, instead of being able to tackle them individually and say well these ones are OK and let’s keep moving, now you have a whole bunch that are in need of exchange and basically people just have to wait. But I do applaud them for moving forward with it.”
When stuck in an elevator
Phyllis Look, marketing and communications manager for Campus Services, said Campus Security’s procedure for handling calls from a person who is trapped in an elevator is to immediately dispatch an officer to the elevator site. Once Campus Security confirms the individual is still in the elevator, the Work Coordination Center is notified.
“WCC personnel usually make the first attempts to free the individual from the cab, but if unsuccessful, they call for the elevator company to send a repair person,” she said.
In an emergency, according to Look, the fire department may be called.
“Campus Security would also like to add this caution: If one is trapped in an elevator, don’t panic,” Look said. “Use the phone in the elevator to call Campus Security; it will connect you directly to Security’s dispatch office. Inform the dispatcher of your situation, then wait for trained and equipped personnel to release you. Never attempt to leave the stalled elevator on your own.”
A campus full of elevators
According to Katsuyoshi, there are about 94 elevators on campus.
Students vary in opinion about the elevators on campus.
Senior Ryo Yamaguchi, a travel-industry management major, said the elevators are slow but notices the repairs that are being made around the campus.
He said these repairs are slow and cause students to have to take the stairs.
Jordan Paulachak, an economics and accounting major, said the elevator repairs are a good thing.
Katsuyoshi said the office is contemplating two additional phases, but it will depend on future legislative appropriations.
“We hope to aggressively pursue that funding so that we may complete the elevator modernization program within the next four to five years,” Katsuyoshi said.
Retired Lt. General Francis Wiercinski and UH interim President David Lassner are the two finalists for the UH System president position.
According to a UH news release, Board of Regents Chairman John C. Holzman said the board has voted to accept the Presidential Selection Committee’s recommendation and are planning to go forward with the process in the same spirit the search was started. He said this is to make the search as open and transparent as possible to get feedback from the public.
“I want to emphasize that there are only two candidates,” he said. “We have focused on the quality on the candidates. Each in his own right is an extraordinarily talented and accomplished individual. Each is qualified to lead the university, but now the question is who would be the best fit?”
In a few days, the board will issue a report that will show how it arrived at the two candidates. This report will also include the number of applicants.
The regents had a very thorough process before arriving at the finalists, according to Holzman.
“We think the process was not only thorough but fair,” he said.
One candidate dropped out of the running because Lassner was running, according to Holzman, who said that is common.
“In the majority of cases, the incumbent does—across the United States—does get that job,” he said.
Lassner was nominated for the position.
Holzman said some of the qualifications of Wiercinski are that he has enormous capacities as a leader and he is passionate about higher education in the state.
“He feels strongly that the future of this state is absolutely linked to the success the university has in educating children, and not just our children, but adults that are going back,” Holzman said.
Lassner has had a successful career at the university, doing well as interim president, according to Holzman.
During today’s executive session, there was discussion about reopening the search since there are two finalists, but Holzman said the board feels it’s comfortable where it is.
Holzman said students and faculty will get to hear from the candidates and provide feedback before the end of the academic year.
“We’re going to make as many opportunities as we possibly can on as many campuses as we can, and we’ll use technology to the max,” he said.
He said the board will probably make a decision in the first half of June.