Library heals in decade after flood

Nearly a decade ago, water rushing down Manoa Stream jumped the banks and surged downhill at the edge of the University of Hawaii, slamming “like a tsunami” into the main campus library, said Lynn Davis, who heads its preservation department.

Hamilton Library’s basement quickly filled with water, damaging thousands of materials.

Staff members quickly gathered up many irreplaceable items such as rare Hawaii and Pacific region maps and aerial photographs, which would later be frozen to prevent mold growth.

Today, while restoration efforts are still wrapping up, Davis is prepping for two exhibits that commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the Oct. 30, 2004, flood. One details salvaging and the other showcases recovered rare maps.

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Governor releases $39 million for UH facility improvements


Gov. Neil Abercrombie released today nearly $40 million for capital improvement projects at the University of Hawaiʻi.


According to a press release, UH received $29 million for systemwide health, safety and code requirement projects, which includes accessibility improvements, sewer and storm drain upgrades, health and safety improvements at Lyon Arboretum and walkway upgrades at the Mānoa campus. UH also received $10 million for minor capital improvement projects at the community colleges, which include design and construction funds for capitol renewal and deferred maintenance projects.


“These projects, at campuses from Lihue to Hilo, are long-term investments in our state university system, an anchor of our island community,” Gov. Abercrombie said in a press release. “They address needed repairs, maintenance and upgrades to ensure functional academic environments and accessible, affordable higher education opportunities for the people of Hawaii.”

Faculty senate surveys members on Apple’s termination

The campus’ Faculty Senate Executive Committee is surveying the members of the faculty congress to gauge its opinion regarding UH President David Lassner’s action to fire Mānoa Chancellor Tom Apple.

The voluntary and anonymous survey was sent out Friday and includes one question, asking if members are disturbed, indifferent or in favor of the process leading to Apple’s dismissal.

“On July 30th, President Lassner publicly announced that Tom Apple was being removed from the position of Chancellor of UH Mānoa, effective as of September 1, 2014. This decision, taken with the approval of the UH Board of Regents, was taken without any prior consultation with the Mānoa Faculty Senate, its Executive Committee, the Mānoa Faculty Congress, or appropriate student organizations, such as the ASUH and GSO,” the survey said.

Many faculty members are glad they are finally being consulted, but some feel the way the question was worded could be misleading.

“I’m indeed ‘disturbed’ by the PROCESS with which Chancellor Apple was removed from his office but not by the fact that he was removed,” said Manfred Steger, a political science professor, in an email to faculty. “I think that the removal process was handled poorly but I also believe that President Lassner (with support of the BOR) has the authority to remove a Chancellor whose record is quite mixed and who had lost the confidence of a good number of administrative leaders.”

One concern is that the problem could be made into how Apple shouldn’t have been fired when it could be a “they shouldn’t operate in such a closed and arbitrary, manner problem,” said Kathy Ferguson, a political science professor, in an email to faculty.

But the process was the major issue in the firing of Apple, said Steve OʻHarrow, Center for Southeast Asian Studies director.

“That PROCESS derives from the STRUCTURE, which is best summed up in Hawaiian: Ko kapakahi ka la ma Mānoa!” he said in an email to faculty.

He said he would support a resolution that emphasized the positive theme of a restructuring of campus governance and avoided lashing out at Lassner and the Board of Regents.

The best approach, he says, would be for faculty to agree on the structure they want and politely meet with Lassner and the Board and put forward what they’ve agreed on. But if the Board proposes a restructuring that is contrary to what the faculty proposes, the community and students will be the ones who suffer. He also suggested that the faculty should be sure all congressional candidates fully understand “the issues as we see them and will use any thwarting of what is best for the students as challenges to throw at the current office holders.”

“In other words, we need to make the “Mess at Mānoa” a big campaign issue with which to pressure “the powers-that-be” into doing the right thing,” OʻHarrow said.

Drivers now allowed to use phones while engine is off

Question: Whatever happened to proposed changes in state law on the use of cellphones while driving?

Answer: As of July 1 under an amended law, drivers are now able to use their mobile electronic devices while their vehicles are at a complete stop, out of traffic and the engine is off.

“We made necessary changes to a law that will better serve the public and ultimately remind people to not text or use the phone while driving, which in the end can save lives,”said Sen. J. Kalani English (D, East Maui-Upcountry Maui-Molokai-Lanai-Kahoolawe), one of the lawmakers who pushed for amendments at this year’s Legislature.

The changes were needed to address typical situations in Hawaii, he said.

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Regents approve Bley-Vroman as Mānoa interim chancellor

The Board of Regents approved Robert Bley-Vroman as interim chancellor at its meeting today.

“We intend to honor the settlement agreement with Chancellor (Tom) Apple and have approved the appointment of Dr. Bley-Vroman as interim chancellor,” Regent Chairman Randy Moore said after the vote. “Dr. Bley-Vroman brings to the role decades of experience at UH Mānoa through which he has gained a deep understanding of the campus as a faculty member, faculty leader and dean.”

Lassner chose Bley-Vroman, dean of the College of Languages, Linguistics and Literatures, last Thursday to replace Apple, who is stepping down to a tenured professorship in the campus’ chemistry department Sept. 1.

According to Moore’s statement, the Board and Lassner recognize that additional steps are needed to strengthen critical relationships at Mānoa.

“Dr. Bley-Vroman has committed to maintain the high standard for campus communications that students and faculty have made clear they expect and that we all believe they deserve in their chancellor,” Moore said. “In addition, the Board and president will establish additional mechanisms for informal discussions with faculty and students at Mānoa and throughout the system.”

After hearing concerns about the process used to evaluate the chancellor, part of which already includes input from faculty and student leaders, Lassner has committed to invite campus governance groups to provide their own direct assessments.

“We will amend applicable policies to ensure this practice is institutionalized,” Moore said.

UH will also assess the administrative structure of the campus and its relationship to the UH System and other campuses to “improve management, decrease administrative costs and increase focus on academic excellence,” leaving some faculty concerned.

“As we discussed at the Faculty Congress this week, there is a good chance the next step in the dismantling of Mānoa will likely be the elimination of our chancellor position,” said R. Kelly Aune, Communicology chairman, in an email to faculty. “…I read this passage as indicating time to get ahead of this is very short, if not past. I think the blitzkrieg on Manoa is still in full force.”

According to James Dator, Hawaiʻi Research Center for Futures Studies director, there was debate about the utility of the chancellor’s office when the position was created.

“Mānoa has not had, and then had, and then not had, and then had again a Chancellor during my time at Mānoa,” he said in an email to faculty. “I and some others were opposed to the creation of the office, arguing that in a system as small as ours, all important decisions would be kicked up to (or end-rounded to) the president, and that the proliferation of minions around the chancellor would duplicate those at the president’s level in many cases, and suck yet more money out of faculty work to administrivia.”

According to minutes from a 2001 BOR meeting, the board approved a plan that year to establish a UH system office, which included the Office of the President, that would separate the president position from the chancellor at the Mānoa campus.

The faculty, Dator says, should carefully consider and possibly then decide to eliminate that level of bureaucracy since “it neither protects nor promotes our interests…”

College of Education Dean Christine Sorensen said the UH system has not learned to operate as other systems do at a broad policy level over all the institutions.

“Rather, the UH system continually mucks around in Mānoa issues in ways it seems not to do with the other institutions under its authority,” she said in an email to faculty. “… I firmly believe Mānoa needs its own leadership whose role is to do what is best for Mānoa, and not to have other competing interests.  I also believe system needs to get out of Mānoa’s business — including athletics — and stop allowing other upper level Mānoa administrators to go around the Chancellor to get decisions changed. System’s behavior has basically removed the authority of any Chancellor to actually lead Mānoa.”

The Board will also expedite the review of the Cancer Center, which will determine how the center can be strengthened to ensure that it maintains its National Cancer Institute designation and can contribute to the fight against cancer and improved health care in Hawai‘i.

“President Lassner has been very clear with Chancellor Apple and in meetings with students and faculty in the past weeks that no outside pressure was brought to bear on him. The Board accepts President Lassner’s explanation that his actions were based on his assessment of Chancellor Apple’s performance,” Moore said.

Since news of Apple’s termination broke, students and faculty have voiced concerns.

On Tuesday, campus faculty members called for a vote of no confidence in the Board and Lassner because of their decision to fire Apple, according to a previous Ka Leo article. The faculty members said they were upset that the regents and Lassner chose to fire Apple without any input from the students or faculty.

“The Board of Regents and President David Lassner greatly appreciate the deep concerns and ideas shared by students and faculty in face-to-face meetings as well as by written and oral testimony over these past weeks,” Moore said. “The fact that there are different perspectives on personnel matters and how they are handled does not mean that the concerns are not being heard.”

Languages dean selected as interim chancellor

Written by Alex Bitter, Editor in Chief, and Noelle Fujii, News Editor.

UH President David Lassner has chosen the dean of the university’s College of Languages, Linguistics and Literatures to be the Manoa campus’s next chancellor, a statement from the university said Thursday.

Dr. Robert Bley-Vroman will be Lassner’s interim pick to replace Chancellor Tom Apple, who is leaving UH at the President’s direction Sept. 1.

Bley-Vroman came to UH in 1987, the statement said. He is a full professor of Second Language Studies and has chaired the faculty senate.

“Dr. Bley-Vroman is committed to maintaining the high standard for campus communications that our students and faculty have made it clear they expect and that we all believe they deserve,” Lassner said in a statement.

Bley-Vroman will work with the campus community to ensure the steps being taken to clarify and implement the campus freeze are understood and fully protect students and the courses they need to graduate, Lassner said. He will also work with campus vice chancellors, deans and the community to address the budget challenges the campus faces as well as launch an “objective forward-looking review of how the UH Cancer Center can be strengthened to ensure that it maintains its National Cancer Institute designation and can contribute to the fight against cancer and improved health care in Hawai‘i.”

Lassner and Bley-Vroman will also assess the administrative structure of the campus and its relationship to the UH System.

Bley-Vroman did not seek the position, Lassner said, but has agreed to assume it.

“If the Regents approve the appointment, I will accept it, but with reluctance, especially since it means stepping down–at least for a time–as Dean of LLL,” Bley-Vroman said in an email sent to faculty in the languages college. “This is not a desired career move for me. I did not seek this position (in fact, a few days ago, this possibility never would have occurred to me). However, there are a few occasions in life where one feels that one has a responsibility to go down a path, and there is no alternative but to do so.”

Bley-Vroman said he has no big initiatives planned and sees his function as stabilizing, establishing a degree of harmony and preparing the way for a permanent chancellor.

“The goal should be to make Manoa function normally,” he said.

Concerned faculty call on Lassner to clarify hiring, budget situation

As of Aug. 12, 114 faculty members have signed a letter addressed to UH President David Lassner and Board of Regents Chairman Randolph Moore, protesting the budget cuts being inflicted on the campus.

“Most UHM students look to us for their classes, yet we are being brutally defunded to pay for embarrassing mistakes, poor management, and ill-conceived growth within the Cancer Center and the large athletic programs,” the letter said.

Women’s Studies Professor Kathy Ferguson drafted the letter and got about 20 faculty members together to revise it.

As a result of the hiring freeze, students’ progress towards graduation will be impaired by cancelled classes, student workers will not be rehired for their UH jobs and the advisor to student ratio has decreased to one advisor for every 3,000 students. The group is also concerned that thousands of hours and dollars that were put into current hiring have been wasted since new people can’t be brought in to replace retiring and resigning faculty and support staff. The Outreach College will also be affected as it won’t be able to bring in new hires.

“How could such a colossal budget shortfall come as a surprise? Why are the departments and programs that teach almost all of the students and conduct most of the research paying for this dismal string of failures?” the letter said.

The letter asks Lassner to immediately meet with the faculty to clarify the situation and hear faculty concerns; make the budget process clear and transparent, including making expenditure and revenue data available to the faculty; and use tuition dollars to fund instruction.

“We call on the President, the BOR, and the larger community to remember that we are a public university with a mission to educate students and to create new knowledge that serves our communities. We should receive the funding we need and not be sacrificed to cover errors, poor judgment, and misplaced ambition elsewhere,” the letter said.

According to Chancellor Tom Apple’s Aug. 11 update on the hiring freeze, conversations have been occurring between deans, directors and vice chancellors to maintain support for essential classes as a hiring and budget review is conducted.

“As requests come in to maintain positions, we are reviewing each unit’s budget projections for this year and next. This process is working extremely well and we would like to express our appreciation for the thoughtful plans brought forward by each of the Deans and Directors,” Apple said in his email announcement.

The fall semester, which starts Aug. 25, will begin will all essential classes open.