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John V. White (left) and Sonny Ramaswamy (right)

The two candidates for University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa chancellor, John V. White and Sonny Ramaswamy, completed their campus visits that included public forums. The forums allowed each finalist to introduce themselves and their visions and gave students, faculty, staff and the public the opportunity to ask questions.

Feedback encouraged

Feedback on the candidates can be sent through the executive search website. Participation in the selection process by students, faculty, staff and the public is highly encouraged and valued.

Forum videos

John V. White, November 15

John Valery White is acting chancellor for the Nevada System of Higher Education. He previously served as executive vice president and provost of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), strategic advisor to the president of UNLV and as a professor of law at the William S. Boyd School of Law where he was also the second dean.

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Sonny Ramaswamy, November 22

Sonny Ramaswamy was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Prior to starting at NIFA, Ramaswamy held a number of academic positions, including: dean of Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences; director of Purdue University’s Agricultural Research Programs; university distinguished professor and head of Kansas State University’s Entomology Department; and professor of entomology at Mississippi State University.

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This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. I attended both live presentations of the two candidates. While I found both candidates acceptable, my preference is for Dr. White. UHM is facing many fiscal and intellectual challenges at present and into the future. Dr. White did a better job of providing me with very clear, reasonable, and rational plans for how to address these challenges. He has a very clear sense of the current political climate facing public universities and understands the specific issues facing UHM in part because of his work at UNLV. He has experience working at both a campus and system wide level which is essential for a Manoa Chancellor. Dr. Whiteʻs presentation also provided clear evidence that he has experience working with a state legislature and with financial donors. He was also quite explicit about the value he places on liberal education. Unlike the second candidate, he made it clear that a general education, a liberal education is essential for students entering the workforce in part because this is what employers are looking for.

    Dr. Ramaswamy has energy and enthusiasm and is team focused but I think he might be too far removed from the University setting to be effective at UHM. While it is certainly critical for the Chancellor to be able to work with the state legislature and donors, which I am confident he is really good at, the Chancellor of UHM needs to be hands-on. We are a big university but we also have a small-city way of interacting that might not be well suited to Dr. Ramaswamyʻs style.

  2. I would NOT like to support Sonny Ramaswamy because he is completely PRO GMO that is neither good for diversity of our crops, nor is it good for our environment. Even NYTimes that was completely PRO GMO earlier is now beginning to realize the damage such research and GMO crops are causing. Thus my reason for NOT supporting Sonny Ramaswamy who has a track record in supporting the PRO GMO research.

    Thank you for your time and understanding.

  3. Do we really need a Chancellor at all? How about spending the money that would be used for a Chancellor’s salary on hiring more full-time Professors and doing preventative maintenance on the University system’s ailing infrastructure?

  4. John White was the superior candidate by far. In his chat with the UH community, he demonstrated a nuanced understanding of the issues facing higher education in general and UH in particular. His legal mind was demonstrated in his ability to understand the various sides of every issue. I did not like Ramaswamy’s suggestion that UH should blindly follow the lead of Clemson University. Certainly Clemson’s improved graduation rates are impressive but he was suggesting following Clemson’s lead based purely on their numbers without any understanding of what Clemson actually did to get there. This is foolhardy. Based on his presentation, White would take a more reasoned and cautious approach in improving graduation rates. Whereas Ramaswamy tended to answer questions with platitudes (“That’s a no brainer! Let’s fix it.”), White demonstrated he understood the real challenges facing a large public university. White said in his presentation, he would be honored to be a part of the UH community. I think UH should be honored to have White.

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