President’s letter to the UH ohana
Dear University ʻOhana,
It’s the start of a new school year and we have much to celebrate with the opening of the new UH West Oʻahu campus and other successful programs to advance our system of public higher education.
The last few weeks, however, have cast a cloud over our accomplishments and we’ve been unable to publicly refute much of the inaccuracies due to employee confidentiality and other concerns. This Wednesday, the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents will have a full and complete discussion of the facts leading to the cancelled Athletics benefit concert, examination of the university’s subsequent actions, and our recommendations for moving forward. We have tried to follow, and I hope you agree that we have followed, a thoughtful and transparent process first with our Regents and then with the general public. I will be available after the meeting to answer questions and respond to concerns, and we ask for your understanding so that these matters can be handled with the appropriate attention, gravity and consideration.
Let me recap a few key facts:
- Stevie Wonder Concert: We believe we were scammed. When we became aware that we may have been the victims of a fraud, we immediately reported it to law enforcement and fully cooperated with law enforcement. We also initiated our own internal investigation. The results will be presented to the Board of Regents this Wednesday. In order for the investigation to proceed freely and fully, employees closely connected with the planned concert were removed from the workplace and placed on paid leave. Because we felt it unfair to make statements before facts were available, we have declined to engage in the widespread speculation about blame and accountability.
- UH Athletics Department: At the same time, and almost coincidentally, UH Mānoa administration had determined that after 4½ years of a 5-year agreement, it was time to search for a new Director of Athletics. Plans for the process and timetable for this action would have commenced regardless of the concert cancellation and ensuing investigation. The discussions regarding this personnel decision were in the early stages and not yet public, but the attention of campus leadership had already turned to the recruitment process.
Unfortunately, these two separate issues collided and became entangled in the public’s perceptions. Personnel actions related to the future of the Athletic Department are not a result of nor derived from the investigation over the concert, and the two events should not have become so connected in the way that they have.
Please know we are deeply grateful for your concerns expressed over the last two weeks. We value your trust and pledge to continue to be transparent and open as we move forward as a university community and ʻohana.
I look forward to reporting back to you after the Regents meeting, and I thank you, as always, for the privilege of serving you, our students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and the people of Hawaiʻi.
University of Hawaiʻi System
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