RESPONSE TO ENGLERT’S ADVERTISER ARTICLE

 

I was so embarrassed to be a part of the UH, Manoa community after I read the ridiculous, demonstrably false, article by Manoa Chancellor Peter Englert advocating for the development of a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) and the conduct of secret research for the military at UH (“Proposed deal with Navy would boost campus capabilities,” Advertiser, 4/3/05, pB1). Part of the reason for the embarrassment is the way Englert has dodged open discussion about the UARC. For example, Englert literally ran out of the Manoa Faculty Congress several weeks ago when confronted by the faculty about his proposals, amidst shouts of, “Don’t let the Chancellor leave!” And, after failing to honestly and directly answer questions in his bogus “consultation on April 7, Englert abruptly left the hall with several people waiting in line to ask questions. This time, community members followed him, surrounding his car until Englert was forced to abandon it and hide in his office!

 

The Advertiser article by Englert provides several reasons for the remainder of my embarrassment in that it contains at least seven patently, outrageously false statements, distortions that should make all University faculty and administrators cringe and share my embarrassment at being associated with such a man and his grossly offensive and dangerous proposal.

 

LIE 1: UH responded to a Request for Proposals (RFP) from the Navy.

TRUTH 1: Englert repeatedly has said that the Navy sought out UH because of our expertise. I have in my possession a letter from the Navy that says Englert and one faculty member approached the Navy, rather than the other way around, to inquire about development of a UARC. Furthermore, there was no real RFP –which requires national advertising (the UH did fill out an RFP form, however), nor was there ever a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), military-speak for a federally-mandated type of national advertising. This whole venture is illegal, and could fold due to that illegality as quickly as it is developed, causing the UH irreparable financial harm and harm to our reputation.

 

LIE 2: Navy UARCs are at “very prestigious universities.”

TRUTH 2: Englert must have a very low opinion of what a “prestigious university is.” None of the universities with UARCs are rated as in the top 10 in the nation. Only one is in the top 20, and that university’s prestige has nothing to do with its UARC. The rest of the universities with UARCs are better known for their football teams. The truly prestigious universities -like UC, Berkeley, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT and so on- have absolutely rejected having UARCs attached to their campuses because, in Stanford’s case as one example: The adverse effects of the distortion of faculty and institutional priorities caused by the acceptance of  UARC funds clearly and simply outweighed any possible benefit to be gained by accepting UARC funds.

 

LIE 3: Institutions with UARCs have strengthened their graduate programs.

TRUTH 3: See TRUTH 2. If these few institutions with UARCs have, indeed, strengthened a few of their programs, it was not because of the UARCs! Published UARC guidelines specifically preclude sharing of UARC activities with colleagues, students, and the public. Faculty and students who may work on UARC activities actually are diverted from university programs that are designed to foster innovation and intellectual capacity of the faculty and students. There can be no close intellectual relationship –no mentoring- among students in the program and faculty working in a UARC. Thus, graduate programs inevitably deteriorate with UARC funding because the intellectual capital of students and faculty is critically wounded.

 

LIE 4: It’s easier for faculty to get funding with a UARC because there is no need to write competitive grants.

TRUTH 4: Non-competitive funding virtually destroys innovation. Faculty and students doing UARC work will become tools of the Navy, doing Navy work that cannot be published, shared with others or used to benefit human-kind. Junior faculty and students  –have no doubt about it, that’s how universities work- will be pressured  to do UARC-related activities that will help neither their own development nor the intellectual development of others. This “easy money” will become the inducement for discarding more productive avenues of research for faculty and students that has the potential of benefiting the UH and the world.

 

LIE 5: “The prestige of UARC status …brings great honor…”

TRUTH 5: See all of the above. If UARCs brought such great honor, why wouldn’t the best universities in the country, some with multiple Nobel Prize winners, not want them? The answer is simple and factual: The UARC will make the UH appear to be a little backwater university floating in the Pacific without the ability to generate sufficient research funds on its own, so it became beholden to the Navy to supply the funds. “Great honor?”  Just the opposite.

 

LIE 6: Adding the UARC to UH would not change the proportion of classified (secret) military research conducted by the UH.

TRUTH 6: Only the mathematically challenged could accept this Englert distortion. Englert claims “only” 15% of UARC activites will be classified. How could he possibly know that? Once the Navy has its hooks into the UH, the Navy could demand that all UARC research must become classified. The Navy is like the Mafia: Once they have you, they really have you There’s no escape from the lure of easy money.

 

LIE 7: UARC issues “have been discussed within and outside of the formal consultation processes which began in September 2004.”

TRUTH 7: This is Englert’s biggest lie of all, akin to WWII propaganda machines that used the same principle: Make a lie big enough and repeat it often enough, and people will come to believe it. There have been no consultations at all, with faculty, students, community or Native Hawaiian groups. This is so despite the fact that the Board of regents stated at their November 2004 meeting that there must be wide consultations with affected groups. This lack of consultations and transparency is one of the major reasons that the Manoa faculty is up in arms over the UARC. The closest Englert has come to consultations so far is when he ran out of the Faculty Congress, stopping only to yell out that people could come to his office to talk if they so desired. The three “consultations” –the faculty are calling these “fake consultations”- are too little, too late. The consultations are shibai!

 

There is a most amazing contradiction in all this: Englert is the leading (and one of only a few) advocate for the UARC. At the same time, Englert has been designated by UH as the point person for UARC “consultations” and the person who will decide whether there is sufficient support to proceed with the UARC. Transparency? Out the window! Rational decision-making? On the way out as well.

 

It is no wonder that a huge coalition of faculty, students, community and Native Hawaiian groups has been organized to fight the UARC (see WWW.stopuarc.info). In fact, the Higher Education Committee of the State House of Representatives, chaired by Rep. Tommy Waters, has passed a resolution urging the UH to abandon plans for the UARC. At that hearing, dozens of people testified for three hours in opposition to the UARC, but only one person testified in favor: The very same faculty member who accompanied Englert when he went to visit the Navy to request that UH be allowed to develop a UARC! In addition, in recognition of the lack of consultation, the Higher Education Committee and the Education Committee of the State Senate, chaired by Senators Clayton Hee and Norman Sakamoto, respectively, passed a resolution calling for broad consultations and reports to the legislature before embarking on the UARC debacle.

 

One hopes that the UH and the community will never allow the newcomer Englert  and his small gang who want the money the UARC purports to offer do so much damage to our university, our community and our way of life and to completely violate the university’s commitment in its Strategic Plan to perpetuate Hawaiian values in a “Hawaiian place of learning.”