The University of Hawaiʻi is gratified that the devastating Senate budget proposal to cut 121 faculty positions and associated $13 million was not adopted in the Conference budget approved this morning. Such a cut would have had a devastating effect on the high-quality and challenging education our faculty provide to UH students, as well as the research and service they provide for the people of Hawaiʻi.
However, University of Hawaiʻi officials still need to review the full details of the Conference budget to understand how it addresses the other significant cuts proposed in the Senate budget as well as how the Board of Regents’ requests for new support were handled. Until the Legislature publishes the entire Conference budget worksheets the university must reserve comprehensive comment.
Since the start of the Legislature in January, UH provided the Senate Higher Education Committee with more than 2,200 pages of documents, tables and narrative information to answer multiple inquiries. Clearly, that was insufficient to provide enough information to prevent the broad and sweeping proposals by the Senate to reduce the overall UH budget. In the future, we hope the university will be provided the opportunity to clarify any mistaken assumptions and address misperceptions before drastic proposals are made public and passed by a legislative chamber. The approach used caused significant harm to the individuals potentially affected and the institution, which is highly regrettable.
The University of Hawaiʻi is a complex organization with a multi-faceted mission. Our faculty are the hearts and minds of our enterprise and all play multiple roles in teaching, research and service that may shift over time. Methodologies that can be used to assess simpler types of organizations and employees simply do not apply to research universities and our faculty.
That said, the support expressed for the university and our work over this past week has been heartening. The community clearly understands the many, many things we do for the people of Hawaiʻi as the sole provider of public higher education in our state. We are hopeful that we can work during the interim to continue to educate legislators about the university’s contributions across the islands and how we can do even more for Hawaiʻi by working together.</>