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Search for UH head put on fast track

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The University of Hawaii expects to hire an executive search firm by the end of the month to help recruit and vet candidates for its top job.

The Board of Regents last week approved allowing a presidential selection committee to directly contract a search firm to save time. Otherwise, a hiring decision wouldn’t be made until the regents’ next full meeting in late November.

"If we wait … chances are we won’t be able to get a search firm on board until perhaps December, and we’ve just delayed the whole process for a significant amount of time," said regent Carl Carlson, who heads the selection committee.

A task group made up of regents will review proposals this week and make a recommendation to the selection committee at a meeting Oct. 30.

Carlson said the committee previously wanted to use both a search consultant and search firm, but foregoing the former would save money.

The committee had planned to spend up to $50,000 on a consultant, according to procurement documents. For the search firm, UH expects to spend an estimated $75,000 to $125,000.

The state’s procurement rules are being waived for the search firm hire because it will save time, UH officials said.

The university said in its exemption request that "procurement by standard competitive means" would prevent UH from making an offer by next spring or summer. "It is important that the university fill this critical leadership vacancy by that time," officials wrote.

They said the outside help will assist with coordinating the search process, updating a job description, drafting job expectations, developing a search calendar and budget, and managing the identification, recruitment and vetting of qualified candidates, among other duties.

The regents in July named David Lassner interim president of the 10-campus system. Lassner is vice president for information technology and chief information officer and has said he is not interested in applying for the permanent post.

He took over from M.R.C. Greenwood, who announced in May that she would retire at the end of August to spend more time with family and deal with health problems. Her contract was set to expire July 31, 2015.

Greenwood’s announced departure came nearly a year after UH became embroiled in the so-called "Wonder blunder" from a botched Stevie Wonder concert that tarnished public confidence in the university and cast doubt over its accountability.

After a year of unpaid leave, Greenwood plans to join the faculty of UH-Manoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine at a monthly salary of $24,470 approved by the regents. Regent Chairman John Holzman said at the time that Greenwood — an internationally recognized expert in nutrition, obesity and diabetes — has agreed to focus on establishing a diabetes and obesity center at the medical school.

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