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Donna Kim calls for reopening UH presidential search

But regents again defend its search

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 9:36 p.m. HST, May 20, 2014

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents on Tuesday again defended its search process that resulted in the two finalists vying to lead the university amid a new call -- this time from state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim -- to reopen the search.

"The board believes that to open the selection proc-ess at the 11th hour would do significant damage to the university," the board said in a statement Tuesday.

Following a nearly yearlong search, a regents presidential selection committee identified its top picks: David Lassner, UH's longtime information technology executive, who is serving as interim president, and Frank Wiercinski, who retired last year at the rank of lieutenant general after 34 years of service in the Army.

But the regents have come under fire for the picks.

Some object to Wier-cin-ski's exclusively military background, calling him unqualified to lead an institution of higher learning. Others found it troubling that the search committee named Lassner a finalist when it initially said any interim president would not be eligible for the permanent job.

Others have criticized the search committee for not meeting its goal of producing "no less than five and no more than six" top candidates.

Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa) launched an online petition Tuesday afternoon, calling on the regents to reopen the search. It had close to 100 signatures by Tuesday night.

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