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UH presidential finalists try to sway regents in public interviews

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 02:55 p.m. HST, May 27, 2014

The two finalists vying to be the next University of Hawaii president tried to distinguish themselves as the best candidate for the job Tuesday in separate public interviews before the Board of Regents.

Frank Wiercinski, considered the nontraditional candidate given his exclusively military background, told the board his being a newcomer to the university should be seen as an advantage.

"I come with fresh eyes. I don't come with a legacy of past decisions. I come with no bias," said Wiercinski, who retired last year at the rank of lieutenant general after 34 years of service in the Army.

Wiercinski, who's been criticized by some for not having an advanced degree or past experience in higher education, said that mindset would be useful when making challenging decisions such as reducing costs.

Meanwhile, interim UH President David Lassner, the UH system's longtime information technology executive who has been with the university for 37 years, assured the board that he wouldn't back down from change.

Some of Lassner's critics speculate he would maintain the status quo if named president.

"I'm not someone who has ever been comfortable with the status quo," Lassner said. "It would be a mistake for anyone, and particularly people inside the university, to think that if they pick Lassner, 'Phew, things are going to be the same,' because that's not what they're going to get."

The candidates appeared before the full board for the first time Tuesday and took questions that ranged from how to increase UH's revenue streams and research activities to how to better serve Native Hawaiians and support athletics.

The regents have scheduled a June 2 meeting to vote on their final pick.

Following a nearly yearlong search, a regents presidential selection committee earlier this month named Lassner and Wiercinski its top picks.

But the regents have come under fire from student and faculty groups and the state Senate president who have complained that the search was flawed and needs to be redone.

Some object to Wiercinski's 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.

Other critics said the search committee failed to meet its goal of producing "no less than five and no more than six" top candidates.

The board has repeatedly defended its search process -- handled internally without the help of an outside executive search firm -- and there was no discussion Tuesday of reopening the search.

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ya_think wrote:
The only ones who oppose Wiercinski are the ones who do not want to held accountable for their work.
on May 27,2014 | 10:18AM
localguy wrote:
on May 27,2014 | 12:59PM
what wrote:
It seems the board wants Lassner. Lassner represents all that the board stands for: mediocrity. No changes, no goals, no direction, no purpose, no accountability, no care, no ambition, nothing. Sounds like a "winner" by UH standards.
on May 27,2014 | 01:05PM
krusha wrote:
As opposed to somebody like Dobelle? People need to be careful what they wish for.
on May 27,2014 | 01:35PM
what wrote:
Dobelle was a loser and unfit for the position in different ways. Dobelle aimed higher and crashed and burned. Lassner, on the other hand, will captain a ship that sinks a few inches a year.
on May 27,2014 | 02:27PM
mcc wrote:
Why do the Regents still need to interview the candidates. I thought these were their choices.
on May 27,2014 | 10:51AM
localguy wrote:
Word will go out to all the UH Special Ed people who made the shibai demonstration last time. If you are allowed attend this hearing there are some new rules. You will either sit or stand, keep your mouth shut unless asked to speak, will speak respectfully, and not hold up the signs you made in art class. You will act like an adult. Yes, we understand how difficult this is for you. So if you can't meet the standards, don't go away mad. Just go away.
on May 27,2014 | 11:08AM
geralddeheer wrote:
Enough with this nonsense of 'UH Special Ed'. People have a right to protest, even if it is in bad taste and/or orchestrated. In any case, everyone knew what was going on, what would happen, and no one bothered to stop it. The protests had no merit to begin with. They were staged. The question is who knew and when he/she knew, much less who authorized them. Think about it, this has been a dog and pony show from the start, the insider choice will be selected baring public outcry. Demeaning the protestors misses the point completely, unless you are part of the dog and pony show.
on May 27,2014 | 02:42PM
localguy wrote:
Protesting is one of our rights, but if you are going to do it, don't act like a mindless gaggle of geese, led by, well, what ever that person was. The baboozes protesting represent UH students, well, the special ed ones anyway. Actually I'm all for the General, he clearly has the professional management experience Lassner never had the chance to learn.
on May 27,2014 | 10:35PM
rnamiki wrote:
Only two candidates? Is that all the regents could find? The past presidents were from the college ranks were a bunch of bozos. How about giving Wiercinski the chance. How about a vote of no confidence for the regents?
on May 27,2014 | 11:24AM
loquaciousone wrote:
The problem is the bored regents all have day jobs and can't adequately fulfill the requirements of making the UH stay on track.
on May 27,2014 | 12:07PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
So why do they hang around the Pacific club all day? I just want the Gnl to tell me he doesn't play Bridge w Hinshaw at The Club! If he dies I don't want him either! As tho anything I say matters! Too small a fish! Easily fried!
on May 27,2014 | 01:41PM
bigislandkurt wrote:
So based upon the nomination process that brought us these two finalist, it would be safe to assume that any candidate for any search in the system would NOT have to meet the MQ's, providing their "other experience" is worthy of a nomination. Unless, of course, there are special rules for the "higher end" searches, as opposed to all other positions governed by unions.
on May 27,2014 | 11:39AM
Green Warrior wrote:
I agree. So the BOR is setting the example for the UH system to follow in that for for all searches the MQs and procedures do not need to be followed. I am so dissapointed with the BOR.
on May 27,2014 | 12:01PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
It is not just an example! A precedent!
on May 27,2014 | 01:43PM
loquaciousone wrote:
eeeny meeeny miney moe;
who we pick will have to go;
we can't be wrong cause we would know;
another wonder blunder will stop the show.
on May 27,2014 | 12:06PM
bluebowl wrote:
on May 27,2014 | 12:31PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
I think the University has to follow its search process to a conclusion. It would not be fair for the two remaining candidates if the process were terminated before their candidacies were fully vetted by the Board of Regents. As far as the so called irregularities, so what. If they could only find two finalist instead of the five they wanted you have to go with what you have. There is nothing to stop the Board of Regents from saying that after interviewing the two finalist, we have decided against making a selection and will begin the search anew. As for the good General and his lack of academic credentials, well, if minimum qualifications were stated for the job he must meet them, but I would not disqualify him just because his career has been only in the military. Some of the greatest leaders of our time were from the military ranks. I would suggest that military experience may be an asset for any candidate. Good luck to both candidates. Aloha.
on May 27,2014 | 12:13PM
localguy wrote:
Agree. I think too many people are incorrectly fixated on so called "Academic Credentials." President is not involved with the educational process. Their job is to basically run the business. In this area of experience the General is more than qualified. Having been the leader for thousands of Soldiers and Civilians, managed multi million dollar budgets, rated people, you name it. The other candidate has no real world experience in these areas. Also has never been a true leader. Major difference between being a manager versus a leader.
on May 27,2014 | 12:39PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
The President HAS to be involved w the educational process. He has to know what kind of combat boots one needs in a remedial English classroom.but i venture that neither candidate has ever taught a class of the bunch of rowdies you get in 101 or Intro to Lit!
on May 27,2014 | 01:48PM
localguy wrote:
Not at all. He is surrounded by a staff to advise him on educational matters. Just as our Mayor, Governor, and President have. They do not have to be subject matter experts (SME), their staff can advise them in areas as needed. You might be surprised how fast the General will learn how UH runs. Actually as a 2nd and 1st Lieutenant in the Army, teaching junior Soldiers is part of the job. Willing to bet the General has taught more people than Lassner has. Lassner is very good at what he does, just lacks leadership and management experience.
on May 27,2014 | 05:59PM
false wrote:
This selection process is flawed.
on May 27,2014 | 12:34PM
localguy wrote:
No where near as flawed as the process which selected Greenwood and Dobelle. The reason why they chose local this time, didn't waste money on a personnel agency.
on May 27,2014 | 12:41PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
R u forgetting Hinshaw? Where is Allie to back me up in this? Hinshaw had been literally thrown out by UC Davis. The same folks who are waving placards at the Gnl are the EXACT same folks who objected to "the other" candidate opposite Hinshaw, because they didn't like his wife for professional politics and couched that as wanting a woman. That group led by Cindy Whoever, needs to be put out if biz.!
on May 27,2014 | 01:53PM
Nevadan wrote:
Sooner of later, Hinshaw pops up
on May 27,2014 | 05:16PM
d_r wrote:
This is not correct. The 2007 search for Manoa Chancellor was one of the best and most productive senior executive searches in my 20 years at UH, with 3 _highly_ qualified candidates on the final short list of 4. Whether or not one agreed with the choice of final candidate or liked her performance once in office, there is absolutely no question that on paper she was the most highly qualified of the 3. It is a mistake to confuse process with results; the 2007 chancellor selection process is hard to fault, however it ended up.
on May 27,2014 | 05:40PM
localguy wrote:
Hinshaw = Whack a Mole.
on May 27,2014 | 06:00PM
wave1 wrote:
why do we have these "Regents"? Every time they choose a president, he/she turns out to be a failure- and it costs the tax payers a bunch of money. Got to be a better way to choose a president.
on May 27,2014 | 12:38PM
localguy wrote:
Contracts need to have iron clad morality and ethical clauses so when someone like Dobelle gets caught willfully abusing UH funds, he is instantly fired and can't sue. A stronger contract writing team reviewed by contract legal experts would work. And for the BOR to not kowtow to any outrageous contract additions by a candidate. Basically here is the job offer, when completed you go away. No follow on do nothing staff job, no paid sabbatical, nothing. Just thank you very much now goodbye.
on May 27,2014 | 12:58PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
In Germany they elect their Deans and Presidents!
on May 27,2014 | 01:54PM
localguy wrote:
USA tried this, got Bush 1 & Bush 2. Now Bush 3 thinks he is the chosen one. Really?
on May 27,2014 | 05:55PM
localguy wrote:
Yes !!!!!!!!
on May 27,2014 | 12:59PM
KWAY wrote:
You think GI Joe will give two shirts about local interests or programs? Parade of mainland and retired military yucking it up at their taxpayer paid social galas .
on May 27,2014 | 01:13PM
localguy wrote:
Your shibai post truly reflects what you know. Not much.
on May 27,2014 | 10:36PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
Well good! This drama will soon come to and end. I still wish Lassner goodluck! Just wish he would distance himself from Hinshaw and her minions, especially Chinese ones.
on May 27,2014 | 01:33PM
kuewa wrote:
This is essentially the same BOR that picked Dobelle, who was accused of financial impropriety at UH and at his last position at Westfield. They replaced him with Greenwood, who had been accused of similar improprieties at U California, and proceeded to replicate her previous life at UH. So yeah, they need to interview the next one and make sure that he or she is capable of similar levels of financial impropriety. Three is a charm, right?
on May 27,2014 | 02:03PM
false wrote:
and guess who choose some of these regents?
on May 27,2014 | 05:00PM
jshon wrote:
The short list of candidates who might want the job of leading a public university will always be limited by the knowledge that so many policy makers think of the UH as just another department, just a Hawaii oriented and based institution rather than a national or international leader. Every act of interference is on the Internet for all prospective candidates to see. Every act to use undue leverage, or skew the UH toward just an athletic program, or just a N. Island development project, or whatever will shorten the list.
on May 27,2014 | 02:20PM
Mythman wrote:
Which one has no ties whatsoever to the Inouye network - he's the next president.
on May 27,2014 | 03:52PM
tutulois wrote:
I serve on the board of a small college on the mainland, and we recently conducted a successful presidential search. One thing I learned in the process that previous experience in the academic world is important; otherwise a new president has to spend too much time convincing people that he's credible. Fair or not, that's the way it is.
on May 27,2014 | 06:14PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
I'm not opposed to a military man running UH however I think it's just about unheard of to have a person with only an undergraduate degree as president of a major university. They should search harder for other candidates not currently affiliated with UH.
on May 27,2014 | 06:16PM
Nesmith wrote:
Pick the lt general
on May 27,2014 | 09:34PM
socialscience wrote:
Whomever is selected will probably hindered by the less than fully credible BOR process by which he was chosen.
on May 27,2014 | 11:45PM
Blueskies wrote:
The general may be a fine person and great military leader. However, generals give orders and expect their subordinates to comply. University faculty are part of the governing body of their colleges and their ideas and knowledge in academic matters are essential to the proper functioning of a university. Administrators who ignore or disregard their faculty do so at their peril. Administration also has to take into account the needs of students, who may have low status but who are the central reason for the existence of universities. On the other hand, I have never heard of military generals asking sergeants and privates for their input on how to run the Army. Moreover, the focus of Army generals is not on serving the needs of the privates and corporals, but rather on successfully completing their military missions without regard to the "happiness" of the soldiers.
on May 28,2014 | 12:00AM
Green Warrior wrote:
Well said Blueskies.
on May 28,2014 | 01:18AM
Falling short by three candidates, the search committee offers one who claims military experience, zero time in Hawaii or UH and no academic credentials are a PLUS? Let him keep his warrior's pension and leave the Warriors to us. Or will the searchers blow it third time? And just who picks the pickers?
on May 28,2014 | 01:25AM
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