Thursday, January 11, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 11, 2001

UH president search down to 12

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Staff Writer

One dozen people now make up the field of candidates to replace outgoing University of Hawaii President Kenneth Mortimer.

David Iha, secretary to the UH Board of Regents, told members of the UH-Manoa Faculty Senate yesterday afternoon that the search committee is starting to interview the 12 applicants. The committee will narrow the group to five before giving the list of names to the regents.

Candidates’ names will not be released until two or three finalists are selected, and then only if they give the regents permission, Iha said.

"We’re trying to be as open as possible, but we don’t want to scare away any good people," Iha said.

Mortimer arrived at UH in 1993. He announced his retirement last spring, setting this July as his departure date.

Regents have said their goal is to name a replacement by March, although Iha spoke yesterday of naming someone during the spring semester.

The secret nature of the search has been an issue for the UH system. Meda Chesney-Lind, a professor of women’s studies, has made a plea for openness when the list is narrowed to a handful of finalists. Many universities have a privacy policy that ends when the top candidates start to make campus visits, Chesney-Lind said.

"It’s pretty obvious," she said. "They’re getting on planes. They’re buying new clothes."

Other faculty senators have requested some type of forum where they would be able to meet with the finalists before a decision is made.

The new UH president has been a source of speculation on campus and beyond, especially as to whether anyone from Hawaii is being considered.

During a hearing yesterday, state Sen. Cal Kawamoto (D-19th, Pearl City, Waipahu) questioned Mortimer on the search for his replacement, expressing dismay that most of the talk of a successor has centered on Mainland nominees.

"My opinion, if I can put one out, is that we need a local guy," Kawamoto said.

Mortimer replied that his wife, Lorraine, a Roosevelt High School graduate, agreed, but that the Board of Regents was conducting a national search.

"When people go out there and say you have to get someone from the Mainland, it directs the search," Kawamoto said. "We have some good people here."

Math professor William Lampe also asked Iha to talk about the composition of the 12 finalists. "There are rumors floating around, of course," said Lampe. "There are rumors that they had already been narrowed down to the five."

But Iha said he could not comment.

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