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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 22, 2008

McClain praises ousted regent

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

David McClain

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Kitty Lagareta

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University of Hawai'i President David McClain spoke Monday in support of Kitty Lagareta, saying she has been an "exemplary" member of the UH Board of Regents.

McClain, during an editorial board meeting at The Honolulu Advertiser, praised Lagareta's leadership, citing various successes in the UH system including the future UH-West O'ahu campus, the Centennial Scholarship program and the Second Century Scholarship program.

The state Senate voted 16-9 on May 1 to reject the communications executive for another five-year term as a regent. Her current term is set to expire next month.

His remarks also come as Gov. Linda Lingle considers keeping Lagareta on the board as a "holdover" as she continues to nominate people to fill vacancies.

McClain said he wanted the public to know that Lagareta is respected nationally by leaders in higher education.

"I think it's important for everyone to know that (national higher-education leaders) consider Kitty Lagareta to be a remarkably effective regent," he said.

Accompanying McClain during Monday morning's meeting was Richard Novak, vice president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. Novak said Lagareta has gained the respect of his organization as well as other higher-education leaders

In a letter dated May 9 to president McClain, Novak wrote: "We believe that her continued service on the regents would ensure continuity and the kind of leadership the system requires as it continues to grow and serve the needs of Hawai'i and its citizens."

If Lagareta is kept as a holdover, she could stay on the board until the governor nominates and the Senate confirms a replacement or until the close of the 2010 legislative session.

Senators who voted against Lagareta's second term on the board said Lagareta, who served in leadership roles on the board, should be held responsible for various problems in the university system.

Senators criticized UH's recent management and financial problems, including the firing of Evan Dobelle as president, the growing backlog of repair and maintenance on many campuses, and the departures of June Jones as football coach and Herman Frazier as athletic director.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.