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Hawaiian studies dean selected to lead UH-West Oahu

  • UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII Maenette Benham

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.

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    • UHWO is a poor excuse for a university, it is only there to profit at the expense of Students. Anyone sending their child there is setting them up for failure in the real world. Students get extra credit and even credit in some cases just for attending class. Instructors/Lecturers/Faculty are all encouraged to give extra credit by administrators to ensure students do not fail, this allows administrators to report artificially high graduation rates, this is done so performance targets can be met and for accreditation purposes, not for the benefit of the student. UHWO is a place of mediocrity at best. If you do not believe this find a UHWO student and ask them.

  • If all the money spent on rail were instead used to build up UHWO to the expected 20,000 sooner, there would be no need for rail. Everyone out west knows that the biggest traffic problem occurs when UH-Manoa is in session. Just see what it’s like on a holiday like tomorrow or during breaks and summer. If we can keep the majority of west students out west, traffic would be fine!

  • I hope this person will take a balanced approach to Hawaiian Studies. I hope this would mean resenting all perspectives and all research in a manner conducive to unbiased scholarship instead of rhetoric proceeding from politics.

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