The University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Hawaiian studies dean is being recommended for the chancellor position at UH-West Oahu, the university announced today.
Maenette Benham, who was named inaugural dean of the Hawaiinuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge in 2008, was one of three finalists named in September by a search advisory committee.
A former elementary and secondary teacher, Benham holds a doctorate in educational administration from UH-Manoa. She began her teaching career in 1978 and has taught in Hawaii, California and Texas. Benham previously taught at Kaiser High School, Kamehameha Schools and Chaminade University before joining the College of Education faculty at Michigan State University, where she spent 16 years.
“One of Dr. Benham’s true gifts is her commitment to collaboration, inclusiveness and partnership, which is extremely important as UH West is poised to develop its identity in a time of growth,” UH President David Lassner said in a statement. “I am confident she will provide inspirational leadership to the campus and the community.”
Her appointment, along with a recommended salary that has yet to be made public, is subject to approval by the UH Board of Regents at its Nov. 17 meeting.
Retired university executive Doris Ching has been leading the West Oahu campus on an interim basis since late last year, following the retirement of Rockne Freitas.
“I am honored to be given this opportunity and promise to build on the great work of my predecessors as I work collaboratively with the amazing faculty, staff, and students of UH West Oahu,” Benham said in a statement. “The next voyage of UH West Oahu’s history will be a critical one as our sail plan will include expanding our campus and developing signature programs to serve the central and west Oahu region and the entire state.”
The UH-West Oahu campus serves approximately 2,900 students at its Kapolei campus, which opened in 2012. (Established in 1976, the college previously operated out of portables next to Leeward Community College.) Enrollment at the Kapolei campus has increased every year since opening. At full capacity, the university’s strategic plan calls for eventually accommodating 20,000 students.
UH last fall moved ahead with plans to lease more than 160 acres of vacant land next to the campus for mixed-use development to help support the growing university.