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Search for UH-Manoa chancellor narrows to 2 finalists

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    John V. White, left, and Sonny Ramaswamy

The University of Hawaii has identified two mainland finalists to lead the flagship Manoa campus as chancellor.

Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and John Valery White, acting chancellor for the Nevada System of Higher Education, are scheduled to participate next month in a final round of interviews and open forums on the Manoa campus.

The open forums, which will be held in the Architecture Auditorium at UH-Manoa, are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 15 with White and on Nov. 22 with Ramaswamy.

Ramaswamy, who was appointed to his current post in 2012 by President Obama, oversees an agency that provides funding to “catalyze transformative discoveries, education and engagement to solve societal challenges.” He previously served as dean of Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences; director of Purdue University’s Agricultural Research Programs; professor and head of Kansas State University’s entomology department; and entomology professor at Mississippi State University.

Ramaswamy received his undergraduate in agriculture and a master’s degree in entomology from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India. He holds a doctorate in entomology from Rutgers University and is also a graduate of Harvard University’s Management Development Program.

White, meanwhile, became acting chancellor for the Nevada System of Higher Education this summer. He previously served as executive vice president and provost of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Last year he was the runner-up to be UNLV’s president, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He stepped down from his position and continued on as an adviser to the new president.

He previously was a law professor at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law, where he served as dean. White, who earned his law degree from Yale Law School, also was a law professor at Louisiana State University, where he lectured about civil rights law.

UH launched a chancellor search in April with the naming of a 20-member advisory search committee.

Robert Bley-Vroman, whose appointment as interim Manoa chancellor ended in August, did not want an extension and has returned to a faculty position.

Bley-Vroman — previously dean of UH-Manoa’s College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature — was tapped in August 2014, following the dismissal of Tom Apple. UH President David Lassner said at the time that he gave Apple an unsatisfactory performance rating because he was unable to address serious financial troubles, while Apple maintained he was forced out two years into his five-year appointment.

The UH Board of Regents in August approved Lassner as interim chancellor over objections from some students and faculty, who argued that the two positions should be kept separate. Lassner at the time said he remained committed to continuing the search for a permanent chancellor. He had said he hoped to have a new chancellor in place for the start of the 2017 spring semester.

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