David Lassner is the 15th president of the University of Hawaiʻi (UH). In that capacity he simultaneously leads the 10-campus UH system, the state’s sole provider of public post-secondary education, and Hawaiʻi’s flagship research university, UH Mānoa
Lassner has an ongoing focus on helping more Hawaiʻi residents earn college credentials including those who have historically been left behind, addressing critical areas of workforce shortage including education and health care, and strengthening the state’s economy leveraging the UH research enterprise while creating more high-quality jobs through a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. He is also advancing UH’s commitments to sustainability and becoming a model Indigenous-serving university. Following the devastating impact of COVID-19, Lassner is currently leading the development of new strategies that emphasize UH’s critical role in shaping a more thriving and sustainable Hawaiʻi for all.
Lassner began working at UH in information technology in 1977, eventually becoming UH’s first chief information officer and vice president for IT. He was appointed interim president in September 2013 and the “interim” was removed in June 2014. Lassner is also a member of the university’s cooperating graduate faculty and has taught both online and in-person classes in computer science, communications, business and education.
Lassner is currently Vice Chair of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) and a member of the Board of Governors of the East-West Center. He serves on the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure and on the boards of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR), the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and the Blood Bank of Hawaiʻi as well as the Big West and Mountain West intercollegiate athletic conferences. He previously served on and chaired the Board of the National Association of System Heads (NASH).
In his prior positions Lassner played an active leadership role in a variety of local, national and international information and communications technology organizations. He served on the boards of Hawaiʻi’s High Technology Development Corporation and Public Broadcasting Service affiliate and he chaired Hawaiʻi’s Broadband Task Force. Lassner chaired the boards of the Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) and EDUCAUSE, the major professional association for information technology in higher education. He was a co-founder and board member of the Kuali Foundation, a founding steering committee member and past-chair of WICHE’s Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) and also served on the board of Internet2.
An active principal investigator for more than 25 years, Lassner led Hawaiʻi’s major statewide project funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce that interconnected all public schools, libraries and campuses on six islands with fiber optics. He has had support from the National Science Foundation for more than 20 years focused on research and education networking and cyberinfrastructure in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. He is principal investigator for the Maui High Performance Computing Center and for the Pacific Disaster Center, major long-term U.S. Department of Defense programs on Maui. In all, Lassner has served as a principal investigator for more than $500 million of extramural funding.
Lassner earned an AB in economics summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa followed by an MS in computer science supported by a University Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He earned his PhD in communication and information sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi.
Lassner has been recognized with Internet2’s Richard Rose Award, WCET’s Richard Jonsen Award, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California’s inaugural Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award. He was also named a Distinguished Alumni Educator by the UIUC Department of Computer Science and a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Hawaiʻi.