Manoa strategist looks to Pacific
By Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Education Writer
Peter Englert, the newly confirmed University of Hawai'i-Manoa chancellor, is preparing to plunge into the final weeks of strategic planning to create a vision that will guide his campus and the entire UH system through the next decade.
Peter Englert has been confirmed as UH Chancellor.
Englert, 52, a nuclear chemist who has been involved in the NASA Mars Orbiter project since its inception more than a decade ago, will leave his position as pro vice chancellor at the University of Victoria of Wellington in New Zealand to assume his Manoa duties Aug. 1.
He expects to be in Honolulu for the next two weeks to talk with students, faculty and staff and immerse himself into the final weeks of a process that has involved several thousand people.
A first draft of the Manoa strategic plan was released May 1, committing the institution to a renewed emphasis on enrolling Native Hawaiians, doubling dorm space, establishing a film school and moving faculty salaries into the 80th percentile of peer institutions.
Englert said he hopes to be involved in assigning priorities to those and other goals. Increasing the enrollment of Native Hawaiians would be high on his list.
In recommending Englert for confirmation, UH President Evan Dobelle expressed confidence that Englert will give Manoa a new reach into the Pacific and Asia.
One of his strengths, said Dobelle, is the "multicultural sensitivity" that pervades programs and initiatives he put in place in Wellington to assist the Maori people.
Before making his recommendation to the regents yesterday, Dobelle cast a wide e-mail net throughout the community, seeking comment from more than 150 people. "They felt he was the right person at the right time," Dobelle said of the reaction to Englert.
In the final analysis, Dobelle found the right combination in Englert: his outreach to the indigenous people of New Zealand, his strength in science and his global perspective from studying in Europe and working in the United States and New Zealand.
Englert told a Manoa audience of students, faculty and administrators a week ago that UH is "the gravitational center for research, education and teaching in the Pacific."
Karl Kim, interim vice chancellor of academic affairs, who will work closely with Englert, said the new Manoa chancellor's "ties with New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia add a depth that we haven't had before."
Englert helped build academic relationships between the University of Victoria and institutions in those countries.
In his first meeting with the Manoa community, Englert displayed a leadership style both responsive and inclusive. He has recently overseen a similar process of strategic planning at the University of Victoria and spoke of dealing with a campus rife with cynicism and lacking in self-esteem because of budget deficits.
"Everyone was unhappy and in an uproar," he said. "I couldn't have done anything to change the University of Victoria's fate, but we did it together."
The way you change a mood of cynicism on a campus is by inclusion, he said, because low self-esteem prevails when "you are not empowered or feel you're not part of an organization."
The new chancellor receives a salary of $254,000 and will live in the former home of artist Jean Charlot, which the Charlot family has given to the university. Dobelle said about $150,000 will be spent to refurbish the historic home, including installation of a new roof.
Englert's position as one of several chancellors second in command to Dobelle will be much the same as the relationship he had with the university leadership in New Zealand.
In other business at their meeting yesterday, the UH regents confirmed the continued appointment of Angela Meixell as provost of Windward Community College through Dec. 16.
Reach Bev Creamer at email@example.com or 525-8013.
Correction: The University of Hawai'i-Manoa's new chancellor, Peter Englert, was in New Zealand yesterday and was interviewed by telephone for this story. A previous version contained incorrect information.