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Regents select Lassner as next UH president

UH's interim president is chosen over retired Army Gen. Frank Wiercinski

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 05:10 p.m. HST, Jun 02, 2014

David Lassner was selected Monday to lead the University of Hawaii system as its 15th president.

In an 11-2 vote with two abstentions, the Board of Regents chose Lassner, the university's longtime information technology executive and its current interim president, over retired Army Lt. Gen. Frank Wiercinski.

Regents Tom Shigemoto and Coralie Chun Matayoshi voted for Wiercinski, while Jeffrey Portnoy and Benjamin Kudo abstained. Portnoy said before the vote that he could not vote for either candidate because they did not have a record of running a public university.

In a UH-issued statement, Lassner complimented Wiercinski "for participating in this open process and for his willingness to serve."

"I am humbled and honored by the trust being placed in me by the Board of Regents," Lassner said. "I pledge to listen, learn and collaborate to achieve excellence at UH as we execute on our shared vision to serve all the people of Hawaii in a manner that exemplifies superb stewardship of public resources."

Wiercinski issued a statement congratulating Lassner and thanking the regents and UH community for their consideration. "I would like to particularly thank those who nominated me for this position, asked me to serve, and further acknowledge their support and confidence in my leadership abilities," he wrote. He wished Lassner and the UH "great success and aloha."

Lassner's appointment is effective July 1.

After Monday's vote, the regents went into executive session behind closed doors to discuss his salary. About an hour later they emerged and announced that Lassner would get a $375,000 annual salary.

The regents will extend an at-will contract to Lassner, and board chairman John Holzman said his "continuous" appointment will come with annual evaluations with objectives set by the board.

Lassner started his career at UH in 1977, serving in various technical and management roles that culminated with his creating and leading the university's first systemwide IT support organization.

He had been vice president for information technology and chief information officer since 2007 before being tapped last summer to serve as interim president after M.R.C. Greenwood announced she was stepping down with two years still left on her contract.

Following a nearly yearlong search, Lassner, 59, and Wiercinski, 57, emerged last month as the most qualified candidates by a regents presidential selection committee. But the regents quickly came under fire for the choices and the search process, which was handled internally without the help of an outside search firm.

Some objected to Wiercinski's decades-long military career; others found it troubling that Lassner was named a finalist when initially the board said any interim president would not be eligible for the permanent job. Other critics have pointed out the committee failed to meet its goal of producing "no less than five and no more than six" top candidates.

In recent weeks, state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, a vocal opponent of the search process, started an online petition imploring the board to reopen the search, and a group of UH-Manoa faculty and graduate students launched another petition asking the board to reject Wiercinski's nomination.

But the board wasn't swayed. Chairman Holzman has repeatedly defended the search process and cautioned that a delay in hiring a permanent president would harm the university.

He continued that defense at Monday's meeting and the board voted 12-3 not to re-open the selection process before selecting Lassner.

Lassner was seen by some faculty as the preferred choice because of his familiarity and longevity with the UH system. At the same time, critics have speculated he'll maintain the status quo at a time when UH needs to re-establish public trust and accountability.

In a public interview last week with the regents, Lassner assured the board that he wouldn't back down from change. He shared goals of serving more students, diversifying UH's revenue streams and improving aging facilities.

In the nine months he served as interim, Lassner is credited with helping smooth over relations with lawmakers, who took UH to task over the so-called Wonder Blunder fiasco in which the university was bilked out of $200,000 by promoters of a bogus Stevie Wonder concert.

He helped UH secure big-ticket items in its budget request at the Legislature this year, including controversial construction projects and more than $30 million for faculty pay increases and salary restorations.

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Hubris808 wrote:
Was this ever in doubt?
on June 2,2014 | 03:10PM
lwandcah wrote:
Had to go through the formalities. We all know that this will be no different then any of the recent hires given that we are just taking someone who has been a part of the system for so long. At least with the army man, the problems and issues that have plagued the school would have been addressed in a different manner.
on June 2,2014 | 03:36PM
hunebasami wrote:
They didn't want change>>>>>>
on June 2,2014 | 06:21PM
Workingrl wrote:
No. No one at UH wants change. At least lets hope this Lassner doesn't get the same long leash that his predecessors did
on June 2,2014 | 08:12PM
mitt_grund wrote:
Yup, Kent State comes to mind. Shoot first, then shoot again. Those students are just too unruly. So shoot again. Suppose you have worked with both men and know personally their pluses and minuses. Yeah, thought so.
on June 2,2014 | 06:44PM
hawaiikone wrote:
You have? Didn't think so...
on June 2,2014 | 08:49PM
pcman wrote:
Of course not. The Regents work at the pleasure of the Gov. Lassner chose to raise the pay of profs and staff at the cost of $30million rather than reduce tuition. Continue to the status quo. No change, no improvements here. Vote out Abercrombie. This is his Regents carrying out his bidding.
on June 2,2014 | 04:51PM
hunebasami wrote:
Vote David Ige for change…………..Abercrombie and Norm Chow.
on June 2,2014 | 06:23PM
fstop wrote:
The Regents do not work at the pleasure of the Gov. They are appointed by the Gov. for a specified term, but he has no control over their length of service. The faculty were going to get pay raises anyway; it was negotiated before Lassner took over. The only question was who would pay for it: taxpayers or students.
on June 2,2014 | 10:45PM
hunebasami wrote:
They needed a yes man not a leader. Another Norm Chow.
on June 2,2014 | 06:20PM
niimi wrote:
Who was the last respected UH President? Fujio Matsuda? Al Simone?
on June 2,2014 | 06:59PM
jomama wrote:
David McClain.
on June 2,2014 | 09:22PM
ohelo wrote:
David McClain. The best president was Thomas Hamilton. Too bad he decided to leave; it's gone downhill since.
on June 2,2014 | 10:17PM
Workingrl wrote:
No guts, no glory. UH will continue to slide downhill.
on June 2,2014 | 08:26PM
scooters wrote:
Nope, it was always about him...
on June 2,2014 | 08:45PM
ISCREAM wrote:
A destiny of continued mediocrity...
on June 2,2014 | 08:55PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Well good luck to the new President.
on June 2,2014 | 03:14PM
Oahuan wrote:
Safe vote.
on June 2,2014 | 03:14PM
steelinhome wrote:
Kabuki 101
on June 2,2014 | 03:14PM
ya_think wrote:
UH to continue the same old same old way of running the school. It had a chance to turn things around but as usual they blew it due to the inbred' s at the school......
on June 2,2014 | 03:17PM
Villyboy wrote:
I agree.
on June 2,2014 | 06:06PM
hunebasami wrote:
I agree too…..They got another Norm Chow
on June 2,2014 | 06:24PM
serious wrote:
Me, too. I wonder if Stevie will be there for the ceremony. Dumb decision, but we've had the same dumb decisions for 60 years of party control.
on June 2,2014 | 07:19PM
localguy wrote:
This will make all those special needs staff members and students very happy.
on June 2,2014 | 06:24PM
krusha wrote:
They struck out before going with mainland carpet baggers. Better off getting somebody who wants to be here and is already doing a good job than going with the unknown and ending up with another Dobelle or Greenwood and costing the university millions more dollars flushed down the drain.
on June 2,2014 | 08:44PM
den wrote:
Meet the new boss Same as the old boss
on June 2,2014 | 03:20PM
Villyboy wrote:
I agree.
on June 2,2014 | 06:06PM
hunebasami wrote:
Just a different name.
on June 2,2014 | 06:25PM
realist3463 wrote:
Same inept leadership. Privatize UH and take the cost of the management incompetence off the backs of the taxpayer.
on June 2,2014 | 03:20PM
mitt_grund wrote:
Yup. In a private environment, you would have nepotism and summary judgment. Remember one local insurance company. Wanted to give a member of the family a foot in to the company, so asked a semi-low-level employee to accept demotion to mailroom, so they could put family in. When employee demurred they concocted a situation where they were able to fire the worker. Yeah, private sector with all its nepotistic quirks and incest. Remember AMFAC?
on June 2,2014 | 06:54PM
Bdpapa wrote:
It happens in every State and County Department. Political insiders control government jobs.
on June 2,2014 | 07:55PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
It's okay because professionals still have to take responsibility for their work, such as Lawyers, Doctors and Engineers.
on June 3,2014 | 12:51AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
That makes all kinds of sense .... which is why it will never happen, the unions OWN the politicians in this state.
on June 2,2014 | 09:31PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Not a dissappointment, but not a surprise. Business as usual.
on June 2,2014 | 03:21PM
4watitsworth wrote:
Surprise, surprise. I don't think there really was any choice. We'll see how long he lasts...
on June 2,2014 | 03:23PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
We gotta give him a chance!
on June 2,2014 | 05:00PM
Skyler wrote:
No big surprise here. I know, let's invite everyone to a Stevie Wonder concert to celebrate!
on June 2,2014 | 03:25PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
!!!!!!!Who's paying for Wonder? Or is going to be another Blunder?
on June 2,2014 | 05:01PM
DocM wrote:
A yes man with no vision. congrats.
on June 2,2014 | 03:25PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Is anyone surprised? No, didn't think so.
on June 2,2014 | 03:27PM
ohelo wrote:
GREAT! Will he move into College Hill?
on June 2,2014 | 03:32PM
pridon wrote:
Not until the taxpayer renovates the renovations.
on June 2,2014 | 03:36PM
false wrote:
Gotta have a study first.
on June 2,2014 | 04:22PM
Manoa_Fisherman wrote:
As the song went, "And the Beat Goes On" and the taxpayers get taken to cleaners again. No accountability to the public who finances this bureaucracy. May be it is time to just shut it down.
on June 2,2014 | 03:32PM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
UH is a rudderless ship....adrift and not knowing where to go.....
on June 2,2014 | 03:40PM
Shrek wrote:
Status quo! It was preordained.
on June 2,2014 | 03:42PM
808comp wrote:
I think everyone knew this was going to happen. The regents put on a good show. Hope he does not follow the foot steps of the last president.
on June 2,2014 | 03:43PM
inverse wrote:
By the way he handled the Carbone fiasco, it is pretty clear EXACTLY when foot steps he will take. That is to step back into his Bachman hall office when conflicts arises, lock the door and don't answer the phone.
on June 2,2014 | 03:51PM
Mythman wrote:
Oh how we love the inside track. Too bad he really doesn't understand the Web.
on June 2,2014 | 03:43PM
copperwire9 wrote:
I think that selection process was completely flawed. But I believe Mr. Lassner will do his very best, and I hope we all will work to support him.
on June 2,2014 | 03:49PM
jmarie wrote:
Oh well same old Bull SH*T for the Uh.
on June 2,2014 | 03:50PM
Villyboy wrote:
I agree.
on June 2,2014 | 06:07PM
false wrote:
The problem isn't the administration, it's the legislature. Search that.
on June 2,2014 | 03:50PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
I think it both, the entire senior administration of UH is basically patronage positions that do little to nothing. Whenever something does happen, UH hires consultants, CPA's and lawyers to fix the problem.
on June 2,2014 | 09:39PM
DAGR81 wrote:
on June 2,2014 | 04:17PM
WestSideTory wrote:
The good thing is their not giving him an extended contract, so he'll have to prove himself every day that he's the right man for the job or face removal. With that said I give him 6 months before we are at this again.
on June 2,2014 | 04:37PM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
"He mea ma'a mau ia, for you and I"
on June 2,2014 | 04:38PM
Cleodog wrote:
Frank should consider running for Congress. He's got a taste of campaigning and dirty tricks, so he is ready for the big time now. He has shown grace under fire and is now a gracious loser. I wish him well and thank him for his efforts and seeing the process through until the end. He gave a three star effort, and he is really the winner here.
on June 2,2014 | 04:42PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
Well good! That drama is over! Congratulations to him! I'm sure he'll do a good job! He is well trained!
on June 2,2014 | 04:58PM
d_bullfighter wrote:
Based on the incompetence and stubbornness of the BOR as demonstrated with decisions like this, I will no longer donate any monies in response to UH fundraising solicitations. Money talks - the only thing the BOR undrestands.
on June 2,2014 | 06:12PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
Don't donate! Put the development officers out of biz! That is one level of staff one coukd eliminate!
on June 2,2014 | 07:57PM
Dawg wrote:
Can you believe the BOR (Board of Rejects) made another bad decision. Iam with Portnoy, neither has the qualifications to turn the university around. Time to fire the BOR especially Sullivan - no brains.
on June 2,2014 | 06:21PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Then fire Abercrombie!
on June 2,2014 | 09:40PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Now it's June and November will be here soon.
on June 3,2014 | 01:41AM
mitt_grund wrote:
Have working knowledge of the man. He was the lead person, collaborating on bringing fed-funded high capacity Internet interfaces for schools, libraries, and the UH system. He was both knowledgeable and able to break out of the mode.

As recollection serves me, the DOE did little to cooperate, but took credit after the grants were awarded. So, give the guy a chance to show what he can do.

on June 2,2014 | 06:22PM
Dawg wrote:
He has been at the IT helm for a long-time and has made such small contributions - are we leading any IT innovation in the country, NO! The bacon that he brought home had Inouye all over it. Not much work on his part.
on June 2,2014 | 06:46PM
krusha wrote:
They just build that big IT center building. You should visit UH sometime.
on June 2,2014 | 08:49PM
soundofreason wrote:
The same longtime information officer that has been at the helm through the multiple data breaches?
on June 2,2014 | 06:22PM
Dawg wrote:
That's the guy!
on June 2,2014 | 06:46PM
localguy wrote:
Well, UH does what it does best, nothing. Lets see if this time next year UH is no better than it is now, time to find another president. Lassner's first mission will be kow towing to our bureaucrats to give UH tens of millions to take care of the ever growing money pit UH has become.
on June 2,2014 | 06:23PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
That's about it, the politicians use UH to enrich their cronies and pay back campaign contributors.
on June 2,2014 | 09:45PM
bleedgreen wrote:
I am sure the faculty are dancing in the streets. More faculty pay raises and higher tuition are assured. Lassner won't have the gumption to stand fast against the teachers' union, but simply crumble.
on June 2,2014 | 06:32PM
Dawg wrote:
More like NO Cajoles!
on June 2,2014 | 06:47PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
U mean cajones!
on June 2,2014 | 07:59PM
localguy wrote:
Lets not forget he will expect a huge annual bonus just for showing up to work. Just like the rest of UH upper level bureaucrats.
on June 2,2014 | 10:31PM
puuloke wrote:
Surprise, surpise. Only us commoners have to live by the rules. Which one of you out there really thought anybody else was the anointed candidate? Now we're supposed to trust this man - BS.
on June 2,2014 | 06:50PM
iwanaknow wrote:
Give da man a chance.......to swim or sink.
on June 2,2014 | 06:52PM
niimi wrote:
So who was the last really good UH President? Fujio Matsuda? Or Professor Fun Simone?
on June 2,2014 | 06:58PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Fujio Matsuda
on June 2,2014 | 07:24PM
Bdpapa wrote:
No he's the one that hurt the building maintenance program.
on June 2,2014 | 07:57PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Dave Shoji for UH President.
on June 3,2014 | 12:08AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Fan Tastic...

UH managed to pick the one person the universe that they excluded from their search. Only the UH Board of Regents could be so willfully incompetent.

on June 2,2014 | 07:01PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Yea that's almost funny .... the one person they said would be ineligible for the job somehow managed to later get nominated and then chosen for the job. Lassner must have secret mind powers .... or the fix was put in by Neil.
on June 2,2014 | 09:56PM
localguy wrote:
Stupid is as stupid does.
on June 2,2014 | 10:31PM
Kapaho wrote:
Glad they picked someone with Hawaii ties. Dobelle, Greenwood, others from the mainland were losers.
on June 2,2014 | 07:21PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
11 to 2 vote with two abstentions means there are 15 regents?
on June 2,2014 | 07:23PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Sorry did not read your article.
on June 3,2014 | 12:19AM
hon wrote:
Lassner deserves a chance. Got his ph.d from the UH. Been in Hawaii for more than 35 years. Great choice. His heart is at the UH and he is not here for the money. Let's support the man. We should all pull together so that he can succeed and make the UH a world class institution. You gain nothing by tearing it down.
on June 2,2014 | 07:37PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
Just the firing of the shibai development officers, especially the one across the street! I guess she uses the same wiles to hold onto that job!
on June 2,2014 | 08:01PM
HanabataDays wrote:
Is she still controlling your computers and scrambling your cell phone?
on June 4,2014 | 02:01PM
localguy wrote:
Having a PHD is one thing. Having years of actual hands on management and leadership experience is totally different. Lassner is only book smart. Having spent 35 years in the sheltered world of academia he is ill prepared to make the big decisions the job requires.
on June 2,2014 | 10:32PM
Opelu wrote:
The 'other' candidate would of been as unpopular as it was risky to these Regents leadership - Now to see if any major changes come about.....
on June 2,2014 | 07:54PM
9ronboz wrote:
Bad choice
on June 2,2014 | 08:06PM
ss029 wrote:
Not sure how well David Lassner will do, but we need a change with the BOR and the legislature. Can anyone explain why there are only 5 buildings standing at the new UH-West O'ahu campus when 6 buildings were paid for? That's right...we're MISSING an ENTIRE BUILDING!!!
on June 2,2014 | 08:20PM
what wrote:
Knowing UH, maybe they don't know yet. Did anyone bring it to their attention?
on June 2,2014 | 09:28PM
Waialua1 wrote:
I know Lassner personally, he will do his best and the community needs to listen to him, and support him. The results will speak for itself but to undermine the opportunity will undermine our university. IMUA.
on June 2,2014 | 08:21PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Let us hope you're right, after all Mr. Lassner has been part of the senior administration at UH for more than 30 years. You can see how some would see him as part of the problem, not the solution.
on June 2,2014 | 09:59PM
manoamist wrote:
why do we think that someone who has by all accounts failed to secure the private information of thousands of student records as CIO would succeed as President is beyond logic.
on June 3,2014 | 06:45AM
2NDC wrote:
As expected, they made the most inappropriate choice. More SNAFU for UH. :-( Then again, a lot better than "MR. C Greenwood".
on June 2,2014 | 08:39PM
scooters wrote:
UH just never learns. The old boy net work....
on June 2,2014 | 08:44PM
Mana07 wrote:
You've all heard the definition of insanity right? Well, here we go again expecting a different result....
on June 2,2014 | 08:47PM
csdhawaii wrote:
He will do just fine. Congrats to the new Prez.
on June 2,2014 | 09:07PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Not much hope for change at UH ..... those in power like it the way it is, they will continue to direct UH resources to their cronies and waste the taxpayer's money as they see fit.
on June 2,2014 | 09:26PM
cocobean wrote:
It was so obvious the fix was in. A former general with no high academic experience vs. a current "interim" appointee with long term UH employment as the only choices? Why not Donna M. Kim? Geez!
on June 3,2014 | 12:04AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
The regents will extend an at-will contract to Lassner, and board chairman John Holzman said his "continuous" appointment will come with annual evaluations with objectives set by the board. This is the key.
on June 3,2014 | 12:24AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Reminds us of any big ticket government program such as TheRail. There will always be detractors and democracy makes it 51-49 almost always.
on June 3,2014 | 01:57AM
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