University of Hawaiʻi President David Lassner is recommending that at its March 17 meeting, the Board of Regents (BOR) approve a limited-term appointment of Debora Halbert, the current associate vice president for Academic Programs and Policy (AVPAPP), as UH System vice president for Academic Strategy (VPAS). The appointment would be effective April 1, 2022 through June 30, 2024 only.
The VPAS position has been vacant since the retirement of Don Straney in November 2020. UH opened a local and national search for a replacement in August 2021. The search advisory committee subsequently recommended the university secure the services of a professional search advisory firm.
During this period, the president was also informed that three of the four senior executives in the VPAS office had plans to retire or depart the office. This confluence of separations of key personnel with decades of experience and institutional knowledge would pose challenges to the critical work ahead. This includes the development of a new Strategic Plan for UH, the systemwide general education redesign project, and addressing the BOR directive to follow through on the recommendations of the Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 201 (tenure) task force.
With these highly unusual circumstances, the president asked AVPAPP Halbert, if she would be willing to defer her return to faculty to assume a limited-term appointment as VPAS for two years to lead these immediate, ongoing priorities that are underway and cannot be delayed.
Halbert is uniquely qualified to lead OVPAS at this time. She is the executive lead on the general education redesign project. Halbert participated in the SCR 201 task force, where she did substantial writing and research. She staffed the BOR tenure permitted interaction group and is familiar with its work. Halbert has also been part of the initial planning for developing the new Strategic Plan in collaboration with other OVPAS executives.
Halbert graciously agreed to accept a limited-term appointment as VPAS through June 2024 should the BOR approve. At that time, she will return to her faculty position in the political science department at UH Mānoa.
The VPAS search advisory committee was consulted before making the recommendation to the BOR, and the president committed to an open search to fill the position on a permanent basis. With the recommendation of this limited-term appointment of Halbert, the 2021 VPAS search has closed and a new search is scheduled for fall 2023.