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Panel says no to 2 regent nominees


The state Senate Education Committee rejected two of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s nominees for the University of Hawaii Board of Regents yesterday, making it unlikely that the full Senate will confirm them.

The committee voted not to recommend confirmation of Sandra Scarr, a former psychology professor who serves on several Hawaii island organizations, and Patrick Naughton, a former provost at Hawaii Community College who has a nonprofit that works with dyslexic students.

Scarr and Naughton were chosen to represent Hawaii County on the board. Senators, as is customary, have given Abercrombie the option of withdrawing the nominations before they reach the Senate floor for a final vote.

The committee approved recommendation of three other Abercrombie nominees to the board — Coralie Matayoshi, Saedene Ota and Jan Sullivan — for confirmation.

Sen. Jill Tokuda (D, Kaneohe-Kailua), chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, noted that Scarr and Naughton are involved in the community and have extensive academic backgrounds, but “there were some concerns that were raised during the hearing process — reading their responses (to committee questions) — in terms of how they would be best be able to serve on the Board of Regents, especially compared to the other candidates who were put forward and confirmed by the committee.”

Tokuda also said she is concerned about the regent selection process in which an advisory council makes recommendations to the governor. Abercrombie asked for additional names to consider before making his nominations, but he was refused.

Donalyn Dela Cruz, the governor’s spokeswoman, said Abercrombie would ask the regent advisory council for a new list of recommendations.

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