The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents will consider on August 18 a recommendation from President David Lassner for transitional leadership at UH Mānoa effective September 1, 2016. The recommendation calls for President Lassner to assume additional temporary duties as interim chancellor for UH Mānoa, and for current UH Mānoa Vice Chancellor for Research Michael Bruno to also serve as interim vice chancellor for academic affairs. No salary increase is recommended for either individual to assume these additional responsibilities.
- Read President Lassner’s message to UH Mānoa, August 11, 2016
After two years of service as interim chancellor, Robert Bley-Vroman declined to be considered for reappointment. Current Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Reed Dasenbrock also announced last month his decision to step down from his administrative position. Both Bley-Vroman and Dasenbrock will return to the faculty.
“I am incredibly grateful to both Robert and Reed for their substantial contributions to UH Mānoa and the State of Hawaiʻi,” said Lassner. “Every leader wants to leave a role knowing their institution is better and stronger as a result of their work, and this is certainly true for both Robert and Reed.”
The search for the next UH Mānoa chancellor began in spring 2016 with applications screened by the search advisory committee during the summer. Campus visits by the final candidates are planned for early in the fall semester. Faculty, students, staff and other stakeholders are encouraged to meet the finalists and provide feedback. Lassner plans to submit a recommendation to the BOR during the fall semester for a new chancellor, who will hopefully begin in time for the spring 2017 semester.
“With finances largely stabilized, this is the perfect time for Mānoa to move forward as one of the world’s great research universities.” said Lassner. “Faculty, administrators, staff, students and regents are all anxious for improvement and change, and I am excited about the opportunity to work together with the campus community on an active agenda for excellence that will be turned over to the new chancellor next spring.”
Once the new chancellor starts, Lassner will return to service as UH System president only. The new chancellor will work with the campus to determine continuing academic leadership.
Colleagues and friends,
Tomorrow the agenda for the Board of Regents will be posted with my recommendation for transitional leadership at UH Mānoa. A statement to the press will be issued later today, but I wanted to send a more personal message to the campus first.
After two years of service as Interim Chancellor ending August 31, Robert Bley-Vroman declined to be considered for reappointment during the remainder of the search. And as you know, last month Reed Dasenbrock announced his decision to return to faculty. Both Robert and Reed should look back with great pride to their accomplishments and service to UH Mānoa and the State.
The recommendation that will be posted tomorrow calls for me to assume additional temporary duties as Interim Chancellor for UH Mānoa. The recommendation further calls for Mānoa Vice Chancellor for Research Michael Bruno to assume additional temporary duties as Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Both appointments are recommended to be effective September 1, and neither appointment includes additional compensation.
This recommendation is being made after much consultation and consideration of multiple factors. I realize this approach does not represent the preferred choice for some, so I want to say more about how I came to the conclusion that this would be the best path forward for the campus.
Nearly everyone told me that this is no time for a placeholder Interim Chancellor, and I strongly agree. For many reasons, now is the perfect time to begin major steps forward for UH Mānoa to strengthen itself as a great research university. At a macro level, the finances of the campus have been largely stabilized and formal consultation is imminent on the reorganization of a number of administrative functions to provide high performance support services more economically for Mānoa and the System in accordance with our strategic goals and Board of Regents direction. The emergence of UH West Oʻahu on the same island provides Mānoa with an opportunity it has never had before to tighten the focus on its role as one of the world’s best research universities, serving Hawaiʻi and the world. And the worsening condition of campus facilities suggests we consider a new approach to moving beyond the deferred maintenance backlog and finding a path to modernize the entire physical environment in which we variously work, learn, teach, study, live and play.
The signs are clear that we are ripe for change. Last month when it approved the next tuition schedule, the Board of Regents laid out a bold charge to Mānoa to look at its: internal organizational structure; campus resource allocation; enrollment management practices; and master planning for its land and facilities. At the same time, the Mānoa Deans have proposed to advance implementation of the strategic plan through a set of initiatives, supported by Chancellor Bley-Vroman, to look at: purpose, organization and structure; budget; student recruitment and enrollment management; and campus design. The faculty senate has expressed concern and proposed approaches to many of these same issues, and these matters are of concern to students whose lives are impacted on a daily basis.
This transitional leadership period is the time to begin working hard together to create a bold, relevant and strategic future for UH Mānoa. It will require hard decisions that may challenge some past conventions and practices to launch Mānoa on a path to even greater excellence as Hawaiʻi’s sole research university. The work must start now, and it must be embraced by the new Chancellor who will continue to lead the path forward.
As I consulted around the university over these past weeks, multiple options were considered. A number of regents indicated they expect their President to lead this work at Mānoa, which is one of the most important opportunities facing the entire UH System right now. And a number of campus leaders advised that this approach would be the most effective way to make immediate progress on the agenda before Mānoa. That said, almost everyone expressed concern that this approach might signal back-pedaling on the commitment to hire a new Chancellor for Mānoa. I can only assure you that I still firmly believe the President of the System and Chancellor of Mānoa are two different and necessary leadership positions. I remain absolutely committed to the search that is actively underway. We are planning to invite finalist candidates to campus early in the fall, and I know the Board of Regents is expecting a recommendation as soon as the search successfully concludes. My goal is to have a new Chancellor on campus for the spring 2017 semester.
With Vice Chancellor Dasenbrock’s decision to return to faculty, and a recommendation that I serve temporarily as Interim Chancellor, I sought a respected academic leader to serve as Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs during this transitional period. Vice Chancellor Bruno was recommended to me by both the Mānoa Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the Mānoa Deans. The greatest concern expressed was a fear of derailing the excellent work he has been doing to strengthen research on campus. However, I believe this can be a strength in moving the campus forward. His interim appointment straddling both senior academic roles may in fact support greater integration of education and research across the campus, a characteristic of a great research university that offers its students a distinctive undergraduate experience. Many have advocated for a Provost model for UH Mānoa and this appointment will provide an opportunity to understand how and in what ways that might work.
Neither Michael nor I are under any illusion that four more-than-fulltime jobs can simply be fulfilled by two people. While we are not backfilling our permanent positions, we both are dedicated to lead Mānoa through this transitional period. Some additional support in affected offices may be needed to ensure success, particularly as we pursue an active agenda for change.
On a more personal note, September 1 will mark my 39th year working on the UH Mānoa campus. UH Mānoa is my professional home, my alma mater, and a primary source of my growth and friendships over most of my life. I am proposing to take on what is truly an awesome responsibility only because I believe this is the best path forward for the campus at this particular moment in time. I look forward to working with all of you as we take these next steps forward and I thank you in advance for your support and your continued dedication and commitment to our precious UH Mānoa.
—David Lassner, UH President