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Hawaii lawmakers investigate university tuition

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:11 p.m. HST, Feb 05, 2013

Hawaii lawmakers are investigating the rising cost of tuition at the University of Hawaii and are pushing to reform the system's board of regents.

Senators in the Committee on Higher Education approved a proposed constitutional amendment Tuesday giving the governor the power to nominate members of the board of regents without the need for the current advisory council.

The bill was one of several that senators moved forward Tuesday that would give state officials more control over the university board of regents.

Lawmakers have been critically examining university finances after the university lost $200,000 last year to someone promoting a fake Stevie Wonder concert.

Both chambers of the Legislature held hearings Tuesday afternoon to consider measures that seek to increase accountability at the university.

Representatives in the House Committee on Higher Education approved measures to require members of the university's board of regents to undergo mandatory training and submit public financial disclosures.

The committee also approved a bill limiting the board's ability to hire attorneys other than the university general counsel or the attorney general. Lawmakers were critical of the board's hiring of costly outside counsel during the Wonder concert fallout.

Rep. Isaac Choy, chair of the House Committee on Higher Education, said that he is fairly confident the measures will make it through the House.

Choy said a 2007 constitutional amendment delegating the management of the university to the board of regents may have been a mistake. The university should move toward a corporate governance structure, he said.

Senators were critical about where tuition money goes and the university's efforts to cut costs during a briefing earlier Tuesday at the state Capitol.

"We don't want to micromanage, but there's a lot of money involved here and a lot of promises are made," Sam Slom, the state Senate's only Republican member, told university officials. "Many of us have been around here for a long time, and we've heard these things for a long time. What would you suggest we do to help you get things done?"

University Provost Linda Johnsrud said the school is doing what it can to cut costs. She said the university is teaching 35 percent more students with a smaller budget than five years ago.

Johnsrud said the university doubled tuition between 2005 and 2012 to cover costs. She cited the cost of utilities as a significant rising financial burden.

Tuition for undergraduate residents attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa is projected to increase by more than 30 percent in three years, she said. Johnsrud said the school will be forced to raise tuition even more if state funding is cut.

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surfergirl808 wrote:
Those people at the top of the UH pyramid dont deserve the huge salaries they pay themselves. Cut the pay in half and you would be about right for the job. I bet well qualified people would still line for those top UH jobs at half the crazy pay the chancellor now gets. Not to mention her housing allowance... how did this happen? Time to fix IT !
on February 5,2013 | 03:32PM
ISCREAM wrote:
So you want to pay the most highly educated people in the state less...go figure.
on February 5,2013 | 08:03PM
cunfuzd4 wrote:
No, just the poor performers
on February 5,2013 | 08:53PM
csdhawaii wrote:
I'm not sure you should be giving recommendations if you don't even know the very structure you're criticizing. I assume you mean when you say "her" housing allowance that you are talking about the PRESIDENT, not the CHANCELLOR.
on February 5,2013 | 10:01PM
Tony91 wrote:
Yes, a sure fire way to improve efficiency and lower costs is to get the state legislature involved. They have an impeccable record of lowering costs and creating value. I'm not a 100% sure, but I don't think the regents are paid anything to be a regent. The problem is not with the regents but with the nature of the UH system and higher education in general today....
on February 5,2013 | 03:46PM
csdhawaii wrote:
Agreed. The Leg is no better, as they have proven time and again. There are definitely problems at UH, but the Leg is hurting the University with their current lynch mob mentality. Donna Mercado Kim got mad at Greenwood for Greenwood's arrogance (which Kim can certainly relate to because if there's anyone more arrogant than Greenwood, it is Kim), and is intent on making her pay for it, and will take the entire University down with her just to get at Greenwood.
on February 5,2013 | 10:04PM
connie wrote:
Both Sen. K Mark Takai and Rep. Marcus Oshiro went through fighting UHawaii tuition issues when they were college students serving as ASUH President and ASUH Senator respectively back in the day. Who knew they would be fighting the same battle some 30-35 years later. The more things change the more they stay the same.
on February 5,2013 | 04:57PM
csdhawaii wrote:
Wow...imagine UH wanting to raise the tuition more than once during 30 years. The nerve.
on February 5,2013 | 10:05PM
ohialehua wrote:
How much money has the leg wasted investigating the Stevie Wonder fiasco?
on February 5,2013 | 05:02PM
HD36 wrote:
When an 18 year old can borrow $200,000 in Federal Student Loans, than the University find a way for the student to spend it.
on February 5,2013 | 05:59PM
ISCREAM wrote:
I only you could learn proper grammar....
on February 5,2013 | 08:04PM
cunfuzd4 wrote:
so you're saying HD36's point is invalid because he used poor grammar?
on February 5,2013 | 08:52PM
localguy wrote:
Obviously a graduate of the Nei's failing education system managed by BOE/DOE/HSTA, all losers.
on February 5,2013 | 11:01PM
HOSSANA wrote:
The University is under heavy investigation re: tuition and high costs of salaries for administrators, professors etc...but who is investigating the legislators for their high salaries and their supposed raise of legislative salaries that are due this session etc...I am sick and tired of these public officials opining on the University when, they, themselves, cannot even investigate themselves and create more distrust than trust among the public.
on February 5,2013 | 06:05PM
Bdpapa wrote:
To the legislature: Get out of the UH squeeze. All you want is more money for nothing. UH is doing fine and don't need your input.
on February 5,2013 | 06:55PM
ISCREAM wrote:
Johnsrud is right...how much has electricity gone up while taxpayers pay for green "incentives" and HECO officials to get their multimillion dollar incomes...
on February 5,2013 | 08:02PM
desmond6 wrote:
During Governor Lingle's term, theDemocratic legislature stripped her of the ability to choose Regents of her choice. Now that we have a Democrat governor they want to go back to the old system.
on February 5,2013 | 08:35PM
The state University/Colleges are supposed to be affordable for the State students. That's why they stay in Hawaii and not go to other states. And the comments are correct, THEY ARE PAYING THE PEOPLE ON THE TOP TOOOOO MUCH. EXPECIALLY THE FOOTBALL COACH AND PROFESSORS. AIN'T THAT RIGHT.
on February 5,2013 | 08:39PM
environmental_lady wrote:
No wonder the cost of utilities is so high. They waste so much on air conditioning that freezes everybody in the classrooms. Turn up the thermostat for gosh sake. We don't need rooms in the fifties. Seventy-five degrees is the optimum.
on February 5,2013 | 08:59PM
sumoroach wrote:
72 - 74 is optimun IAW OSHA.
on February 5,2013 | 09:57PM
csdhawaii wrote:
That IS a problem...no individual thermostat controls for some of the older buildings, so every room has to be super cold. I've been in buildings where because staff can't control the thermostat, they bring space heaters to work. So that's DOUBLING the electricity output with heat and cold fighting against each other, and creating safety hazards, too. It's a very inefficient system, but unfortunately, it would take millions to fix the poor infrastructure of so many old buildings. And UH doesn't have those resources. Like I said, UH got problems, but the Leg ain't the ones to fix 'em. Better leadership, yes, can make a difference, so yes, let's start at the top with Greenwood and maybe even Apple with some of the odd things he's been doing on campus...but do it behind closed doors, for cryin' out loud, tell them what's wrong with their leadership style like everyone else gets evaluated, and either counsel them or fire them. Bring in new people who will come in with clear eyes and lots of experience to HELP - HELP, not HURT - the administration by helping make smarter decisions than they have been making. And if that means even more firings, well, so be it, but there's a right way and a wrong way to clean house. Leg is doing it the wrong way.
on February 5,2013 | 10:14PM
localguy wrote:
With "Cheap Student Loans" available, universities have no incentive to hold down the cost of an education. Over the years they have gotten fat and lazy off the easy money. Now it is time to go the other way, cutting the cost of education. One way is no special favors or treats for university presidents and higher management. In Greenwood's case UH Manoa wasted tens of thousands of dollars in housing allowances and other sweet heart deals. Greenwood wasn't worth the extra money, she pulled a fast one on UH. After any president's term is over, you are gone. No more UH money, no golden parachute, take your check and the wiki wiki to the airport, goodbye. Also time to reduce non essential staffing. Not directly involved in education, goodbye. All UH staff on the Roth 401k so UH not stuck with long term retirement costs. Reduce energy use, eliminate any buildings not needed - West Oahu campus is already in financial trouble for maintenance. Clearly UH Manoa needs a full audit and backing to reduce costs now. No more free rides on taxpayers.
on February 5,2013 | 11:00PM
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