Think About It: University Blues - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

April 8, 2013

Think About It: University Blues

It seems that not a single month goes by these days without some form of chastisement for the University of Hawaii by elected officials. After UH gained some autonomy, it appears that top UH officials, both those hired and those appointed, must show penance each month for lack of candor, controls, leadership, communication, or clarity.   Everyone carefully covers his you-know-what by having more committee meetings, more outside experts brought in, more auditors, legal advisors, and planners. Operating any business or institution with a constant sense of fear or dread is not a good sign, whether it's the paid employees or the senate-approved volunteer appointees.

UH is a multi-billion dollar entity, and there is fabulous research and progressive work being done there. We need to hear more about those attributes as we sit through yet another dose of bad news or bad oversight concerns. Asking volunteer regents to continually answer questions, while certainly necessary in some cases, is a sorry reflection of the way things are set up and expected to be run. The backlog in repairs need at UH is no different than the ever-growing backlog of repairs needed at the rest of our crumbling public schools and parks. The question has always been about priorities, timing, and the availability of money. 

And rather than talk in hyperbole and admonish people when it wants to show who's really in control, perhaps  our underwhelming, elected legislature should revisit, once and for all, what autonomy really means at UH, and either replace or restructure as need be. One obvious sad result of all of this back and forth is that the Stan Sheriff Center, a well-run and wonderful venue, will continue to sit basically empty year after year from May through mid-August as no one will now dare risk putting on an event there, based on one entrepreneurial idea that went astray. It does make you wonder, as in Stevie Wonder. But it's really just symptomatic of the analysis paralysis now ruling UH, and it's not healthy for the university, the students, or our state. Think about it…

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