David Lassner is the 15th president of the University of Hawaiʻi. In that capacity he leads the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) 10-campus system as well as the flagship research university, UH Mānoa. Lassner’s current agenda includes a focus on helping more Hawaiʻi residents earn college credentials and developing an innovation sector to strengthen the state’s economy while creating high-quality jobs. He is also advancing UH’s commitments to sustainability and becoming a model indigenous-serving university.
Lassner began working at UH in information technology 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 in computer science, communications, business and education.
Lassner is currently a commissioner of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE), a board member for the National Association of System Heads, and a member of the Board of Governors of the East-West Center. He also serves on the boards of Aloha United Way and the Blood Bank of Hawaiʻi.
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 the state’s Broadband Task Force. Lassner also served on the board of Internet2 and 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 past-chair of the boards of the Pacific Telecommunications Council and of EDUCAUSE, the major professional association for information technology in higher education.
An active principal investigator, 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 over 20 years focused on research and education networking and cyberinfrastructure. He is principal investigator for the Maui High Performance Computing Center and for the Pacific Disaster Center, major U.S. Department of Defense programs on Maui. In all, Lassner has served as a principal investigator for more than $400 million in extramural funding.
Lassner earned an AB in economics summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa followed by an MS in computer science with a University Fellowship from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He earned his PhD in communication and information sciences from 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, as a Distinguished Alumni Educator by the UIUC Department of Computer Science, and as a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Hawaiʻi.