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UH-West Oahu head retiring

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 09:06 a.m. HST, Oct 09, 2012

Gene Awakuni, chancellor of the University of Hawaii West Oahu College for the past seven and a half years, will retire at the end of the current academic year, UH said.

In a written statement, Awakuni said: “After 30 years in academia and since returning to Hawaii, my goal was always to get the new UHWO  (UH West Oahu) campus built and opened and to offer four-year baccalaureate degrees. All of this is consistent with the vision that state leaders had for UHWO nearly four decades ago when they first envisioned a regional campus for this part of Oahu. As you all know, on Aug. 20, of this year, that goal was achieved and I feel the timing is now right to move on to the next phase of my life.

“The 36-year journey for UHWO has never been an easy one even before the construction of the Kapolei campus began. But what I have probably admired most about the UHWO community is the willingness of faculty and staff to persevere, to think outside of the box to serve our students and to focus not on the criticism from others but on the charge we are tasked with:  providing a quality higher education to residents of leeward and north shore Oahu.”

Construction of the new Leeward Oahu campus began Aug. 16, 2010. After two years  and $175 million, the Kapolei campus welcomed 1,800 students and 60 faculty members two months ago.

University President M. Greenwood said in a written statement: “The Board of Regents and I charged Chancellor Awakuni with getting UH West Oahu built and open by this fall and he did. This is one of the most important projects for higher education in the entire state of Hawaii and we are very proud that this campus opened to excited and enthusiastic students. We thank him, we will continue to work with him over this period and we will begin the search for a new chancellor in the near future. Once again, I have appreciated working with Chancellor Awakuni over the last few years and wish him the best."

Hired as chief executive of the West Oahu campus in March 2005, Awakuni earns $211,000.

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Papakolea wrote:
These are the kinds of credentials we need in the next president of the university. PhD from a highly respected institution, leadership positions at some of the most prestigious universities in the world, and most of all, he understands local culture and is personally invested in the community. Awakuni could have made a lot more money staying in leadership positions at places like Columbia or Stanford but he chose to come home to get a job done that will benefit our youth for generations to come. We don't need carpet baggers who are looking to make a few bucks and leave.
on October 9,2012 | 08:55AM
cabot17 wrote:
I agree. We don't need another out of touch mainlander leading the university, taking the money, and then running away. We need someone who has personal connections here and is committed to seeing Hawaii prosper.
on October 9,2012 | 11:18AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
The UH ship is sinking and Awakuni is jumping ship . Can you blame him? Who wants to work for MC "throw u under the bus" Greenwood.
on October 9,2012 | 08:32PM
pauoavalley wrote:
We should thank him for leaving students with a $14 MILLION debt for the cost overruns....
on October 9,2012 | 10:17AM
kennie1933 wrote:
Don't forget the fact that UHWO's accreditation is in jeopardy. He is leaving at a critical time, just before the REALLY BIG _ _ _ _ hits the fan. Oh well, maybe the next person will handle things better.
on October 9,2012 | 11:00AM
iwanaknow wrote:
And what will be his yearly retirement salary be??? Gene, please keep it in Hawaii nei.
on October 9,2012 | 10:30AM
psychodude wrote:
Let's guess how much money UH President Greenwood will dole out for a search firm. Or perhaps she won't be around after the Regents schedule special meeting to discuss embattled UH president.
on October 9,2012 | 11:30AM
Bully wrote:
Hawaii should be thankful to Gene Awakuni for getting the West Oahu College built.
on October 9,2012 | 02:47PM
Locokane wrote:
Thank you Gene for your dedication and hard work! I can't believe Gene was paid $211K as Chancellor of UHWO and Donovan gets more as a made-up Marketing Director position at UH. UH policies are screwed up with no oversight!
on October 9,2012 | 08:45PM
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