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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 6, 2001

UH shakeup looms with new president

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer

These are uncertain times at Bachman Hall.

With a new president on the way and impending cuts in the number of top administrative positions, those who occupy the seats of power at the University of Hawai'i system are wondering what will become of them by the end of summer.

Incoming University of Hawai'i president Evan Dobelle is sending two associates from Trinity College to assess UH's organization and finances before he takes over July 2.

Advertiser library photo • March 12, 2001

"Nobody has received a 30-day notice or anything," said Dean Smith, senior vice president and executive vice chancellor of the Manoa campus. "Clearly there will be some administrative changes, though."

Some people are leaving Bachman Hall to return to their faculty positions. Others are quietly looking to go to other universities. But most are waiting for July to see what happens.

The uncertainty that comes with the arrival of a new administration is being compounded by other changes. The UH Board of Regents earlier this year called for a reduction in bureaucracy, trimming the number of top administrative positions from 10 to six. Longtime administrators will have to reapply for jobs. And renovations to Bachman Hall now are making room for a new Manoa chancellor — the first that will be appointed to the campus in years.

This week the incoming president, Trinity College leader Evan Dobelle, sends two college administrators to be his eyes and ears. The people he's worked with before will join the current occupants of Bachman Hall on the Manoa campus to help him learn the UH system.

Linda Campanella, senior vice president for operations and planning and chief operating officer at Trinity University, arrived Monday and will look at UH's organization. Peter Goldstein, vice chancellor of finance and administration for the San Francisco College District, arrives Saturday to look at university finances.

Goldstein will stay until June 16. Campanella leaves June 15 and returns in late June to see Dobelle through his first week on the job.

Dobelle is traveling in the Middle East and could not be reached for comment. In the past, he has said he would refrain from announcing any plans until he officially starts July 2. Most, however, are treating the transition team as a sign that he will arrive prepared.

"I think everybody realizes that there are going to be some major changes," said Barry Baker, outgoing chairman of the Manoa Faculty Senate. "There's a little bit of not-in-my-backyard going on. People think their department doesn't need to change, but others do. That's sort of unrealistic."

The UH Board of Regents in January approved the separation of the job of UH president and Manoa chancellor after Manoa faculty had complained for years of not having a strong advocate for their campus.

The change means Dobelle will oversee the 10-campus system, while the new chancellor will have primary responsibility for Manoa. With the creation of separate offices, regents also stipulated that no additional funds could be spent on administration than already are now — another reason many people expect at least some positions will be eliminated.

Dobelle interviewed candidates for interim chancellor in late May. He said he will likely ask the regents to appoint someone to the position in July.

Smith, who is not on the list of five candidates for interim chancellor, said his position is being redefined as the vice president for academic services.

"It's up to President Dobelle to decide whether he wants to retain me or bring in someone else," Smith said. "All of us who are working here are committed to making this transition work."

Already, some people are leaving Bachman Hall. Thomas Bopp, former assistant vice president for academic affairs, returned to his faculty position in the chemistry department earlier this year.

John Harrison, special assistant to the senior vice president for research and dean of the graduate division, and Michael Graves, special assistant to Smith, will also return to the faculty.

Eugene Imai, senior vice president for administration, said it's hard to tell what will happen to others, though.

"There's not really speculation because there's not a lot of information right now," he said.

Dobelle and the interim chancellor will have broad authority to reorganize the administration however they choose, meaning the plan approved by the board of regents may never materialize.

And the incoming president has indicated he will put his own stamp on the UH structure.

"Most of us have come to think the new president will make up his own mind," said philosophy professor Mary Tiles. "He makes it clear that he makes his own decisions."