(c) Copyright 2002 - 2004 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved
Newly-hired President Evan Dobelle stepped into the UH quagmire to begin work on July 2, 2001, knowing very little about Hawaiian history, the ceded lands, or the sovereignty movement. Like many "fresh off the boat" academic liberal haoles, he abandoned life-long habits of intellectual dilligence to "go native." He knew only that he had been welcomed enthusiastically by students and faculty at the Center for Hawaiian Studies. The story was told that he had been given a kukui nut lei (symbolic of knowledge and enlightenment), which delighted him so much that he wore it constantly for weeks, even in the shower and in bed. The activists bombarded him with music, hula, and stories of a stolen nation, stolen land, and cultural repression. A politically liberal President Dobelle, enthralled by Hawaiian culture and hearing tales of historical and current victimhood, unquestioningly adopted the activists' romanticized mystification of history and their feeling of racial grievances. He gave a blank check to the Center for Hawaiian Studies.
In a speech to the Chamber of Commerce on July 18, 2001, at Hilton Hawaiian Village, making public his policy objectives for the UH, President Dobelle said, "In addition, so not simply to have rhetoric without real commitment, I have directed a full funding for the historic requests of the UH Hawaiian Studies department throughout the system over the next several years. Period. To do less is to deny where we came from, and I have never forgotten where I came from and neither should Hawai'i as a State." Was Dobelle simply a naive newcomer deeply moved by the welcome he was given, or were Dobelle and the Center for Hawaiian Studies already carrying out a well-orchestrated plan?
I was alarmed by President Dobelle's ignorance of the facts, his irrational exuberance for an immoral political agenda, and his unlimited support for the Center for Hawaiian Studies. I wrote him a letter on August 7 2001, sent simultaneously by e-mail and fax, and by hardcopy through the U.S. mail. The letter was never even acknowledged. In the letter I cited the 1996 "Honolulu Magazine" article by Bob Rees, and Governor Cayetano's comments of March 2000 in "Ka Leo," as evidence of the longstanding use of UH as a Hawaiian sovereignty propaganda factory.
My letter (between the lines) included the following observations, which remain valid today:
Thank you for your strong support for the University's role in studying, teaching about, and celebrating Hawaiian culture, history, and language. We people of Hawai'i are proud to accept our responsibility as partners in preserving, protecting, and invigorating these unique world treasures.
But please distinguish between the treasures themselves, and the current staff and administration of the political propaganda factory known as the Center for Hawaiian Studies.
Coming from the mainland, I'm sure you will remember the way some Black Studies departments behaved in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Political activism took priority over intellectual inquiry. The curriculum at some institutions was designed to brainwash students with a revisionist view of history, serving the interests of Marxist deconstructionism and social revolution. Unfortunately, the Center for Hawaiian Studies resembles those highly politicized departments of a bygone era.
Hawaiian sovereignty is the "hot topic" here. The curriculum at Manoa, and some of the community colleges, is focused tightly on promoting ethnic nationalism (sovereign independence) or racial separatism (racial entitlement programs and separate political status for the "indigenous" people of Hawai'i). Alternative views, such as a commitment to multiracial equality and unity, are simply not tolerated.
Hawaiian history is presented at UH today as a study of American colonial imperialism, and Hawai'i today is portrayed as though it has been under American military occupation for more than a century. Published works presenting a conflicting viewpoint are systematically excluded, along with speakers who espouse such heretical positions. It is claimed that anyone without Hawaiian blood is ipso facto unqualified to speak about Hawaiian history or culture, and is being inexcusably rude for daring to intrude (unless their views are "correct").
For some resources on Hawaiian history and Hawaiian sovereignty, please see
You will find many scholarly articles in the "legal" section of that website.
There is also a valuable book by Thurston Twigg-Smith entitled "Hawaiian Sovereignty: Do the Facts Matter?" that is ignored because it is politically incorrect. Mr Twigg-Smith is a 5th-generation resident of Hawai'i whose ancestors were subjects and government officials of the Kingdom of Hawai'i and the Republic of Hawai'i. Mr. Twigg-Smith has a wealth of historical materials and knowledge because of his family's importance in Hawaiian history, but is persona non grata at the University because his ancestor Lorin Thurston helped lead the revolution of 1893 which overthrew the monarchy.
In your recent speech to the Chamber of Commerce
you identified several priorities. Regarding Hawaiian studies, you said: "In addition, so not simply to have rhetoric without real commitment, I have directed a full-funding for the historic requests of the UH Hawaiian Studies department throughout the system over the next several years. Period. To do less is to deny where we came from, and I have never forgotten where I came from and neither should Hawai'i as a State."
Please reconsider your responsibility to ensure intellectual integrity, academic freedom, and a balanced menu of viewpoints. Find some way to hold the Center for Hawaiian Studies accountable. Do not write a blank check that will only be used to support further demagoguery and fan the flames of race-hatred.
As a former Associate Professor at Boston University, I have great respect for academic freedom. Professors, including those at the UH Center for Hawaiian Studies, have every right to express their opinions freely in class, and engage in political activity off-campus. But academic freedom also includes the right of students to be offered a balanced curriculum, to have reading materials which present all sides of the issues, and to be able to express reasoned opinions contrary to to those of their professors without suffering ridicule, ostracism, bad grades, or denial of financial support. Academic freedom also includes the right of professors and students who are not racially Hawaiian, or not enrolled in the Center for Hawaiian Studies, to do research and teaching on topics which may be "politically incorrect" from the viewpoint of Professors Kame'eleihiwa and Trask. Professors of history, religion, political science, etc. at some UH community colleges cannot get their courses certified for transfer credit for students wanting to major in Hawaiian Studies unless the course curriculum is politically correct. UH Center for Hawaiian Studies also seems to impose political correctness on the K-12 public school curriculum. Federal and State grants for research and teaching related to Hawaiian history and cultural practices, available to scholars of related disciplines, establish interdepartmental relationships where professors in other disciplines must support the sovereignty agenda in order to get placements for their students in certain research projects or field experiences.
Attached are two published items that will confirm the seriousness and duration of the political hijacking of the Center for Hawaiian Studies: (1) An expression of concern by Governor Cayetano in a March, 2000 interview; [website readers, for the contents of the Cayetano interview, see
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/uhacafreechsoctopus.html ] and (2) An article in Honolulu Magazine from April, 1996, pp. 26-28, by local commentator Bob Rees, well-known as politically liberal, who criticized Hawaiian Studies professors for teaching "therapeutic history" more concerned with polemical battles than with fact.
Thank you for taking action to monitor and ensure academic responsibility at the Center for Hawaiian Studies.
Barely six weeks later Dobelle showed his ignorance about the ceded lands. He had swallowed the activists' propaganda hook, line, and sinker. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin of September 5, 2001 reports:
"Dobelle, along with new interim Manoa Chancellor Deane Neubauer, entertained questions from a standing room-only crowd of more than 200 yesterday at Hemenway Theatre ... Several questions dealt with native Hawaiian issues, to which Dobelle reaffirmed his commitment that 'if nothing else happens at this institution there will be a full funding for Hawaiian studies at this campus and at the neighbor island campuses.' The bill would likely be in the millions of dollars, Dobelle noted. Dobelle also said he was exploring whether the constitutional autonomy the university won in last year's election would allow UH to determine how to compensate Hawaiians for the university's use of ceded lands, rather than negotiating with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs over a percentage of the revenue. 'There is no question in my mind that some way -- either through increased resources or tuition waivers -- that the 20 percent level (for compensation for ceded lands' revenues can) be reached,' Dobelle said."
On December 16, 2001 President Dobelle announced that he had sent out termination letters to all 216 UH administrators in order to give them a contractually required one-year notice of termination. Thus he would be free to observe their performance for a year, extract whatever concessions he wanted, and then stage a massive administrative reorganization to implement whatever policies he might desire. Dobelle’s blanket termination of all administrators so he can reallocate power and place favored lackeys into important positions is comparable to what conquerors did in ancient times -- indeed, it is reminiscent of how ancient Hawaiian kings, including Kamehameha, killed their opponents and appointed favored chiefs as konohiki in charge of particular ahupua’a with the power to then reapportion the land within that ahupua’a to favored sub-chiefs.
Dobelle himself had the security of a contract through June 2010 at a starting salary of $442,000 plus Presidential mansion and other perquisites (compared against outgoing President Mortimer’s salary of $167,000). Of course there’s nothing wrong with a brilliant man and talented administrator making a huge salary; but the size of the salary tells us the height of the trustees’ expectation that he would be making major changes at UH and also would be bringing in large grants.
For example, the UH medical school has a “Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence” for racial affirmative action programs and for medical research into health problems of the favored race. As this essay was being written, an announcement of a new federal grant was published in the Honolulu Advertiser of September 29, 2002, page A23. Here are some excerpts from that article:
A $4.5 million federal grant has come through to endow a position at the University of Hawai'i John A. Burns School of Medicine that will direct research into the health problems faced by Native Hawaiians. The grant from the National Institutes of Health will be released in three $1.5 million annual installments as the endowment for a new Chair for Native Hawaiian Health at the medical school's Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence. The center submitted its proposal after deciding that an endowment would be the best way to enhance Native Hawaiian health research, Young said. Many research topics also have come to mind, he said, ranging from the prevalence of heart disease among Hawaiians to domestic violence and other behavioral and mental health problems. The Center of Excellence was established in 1991 to improve the health of indigenous Hawaiians through research, education, service and training of Native Hawaiians in medicine.
In May, 2002 it was announced that Peter Englert had been hired to become the new Chancellor of the UH flagship Manoa campus, at a salary of $254,000. Englert was then an administrator at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. What makes Englert’s appointment to UH notable is his strong support from the Maori of New Zealand, who ceremonially handed him over to the ethnic Hawaiians upon his arrival to begin duty on Augist 1, 2002. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin of August 2, 2002 shows a traditional nose-to-nose greeting between Englert, wearing several kukui-nut lei, and a UH student. The selection of Englert, and the manner of his arrival, leave no doubt that President Dobelle’s main priority is to support ethnic Hawaiian racial entitlement programs, affirmative action, and political power.
Here are some excerpts from the story:
Three hours of chanting, hula and warm embraces greeted the University of Hawaii-Manoa's new chancellor yesterday. Many said they hoped the ceremonial show of welcome will be a sign of stronger bonds between the university administration and the native Hawaiian community. "Our goal is to have more Hawaiians coming to this university," said Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, director of the UH-Manoa Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies yesterday at a ceremony celebrating Manoa Chancellor Peter Englert's official introduction to the flagship campus' faculty. Englert, former pro vice chancellor and dean of science, architecture and design at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, is credited with bettering that institution's relationship with the local Maori community and increasing Maori enrollment at the university during his seven years there. Shona DeSain, associate dean of students at Victoria University ... and five other Victoria University senior faculty members attended the ceremony, which was both a welcome and a farewell to Englert. About 50 UH faculty and staff members also attended the gathering, which featured Hawaiian welcome and Maori farewell chants. "Never before have we had Polynesians bringing to us somebody who they've put their stamp of approval on," Kame'eleihiwa said.
On September 11, 2002 President Dobelle began his second year at UH by giving a major speech to the "first annual" convention of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. The CNHA is an umbrella organization of large, wealthy, racially exclusionary government and private organizations and influential individuals. What brings the members of CNHA together is their general desire for additional money and power, and their specific support for the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill in Congress. CNHA has a website at http://www.hawaiiancouncil.org from which much useful information can be obtained. For the first annual conference, there was a registration fee of $350 and an exhibitor fee of $450. The annual dues for Native Hawaiian-serving Organizations with an annual operating budget of more than $250,000 are calculated at 1/10 of 1% of their annual operating expenses with a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $15,000. The agenda and workshop descriptions read like a who's who of persons and organizations in Hawaii, plus Alaska corporations and at least one American Indian Organization. The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation donated $25,000.00 as one of the conference sponsors. If the Native Hawaiian recognition bill passes, ASRC might be hoping to make major profits in Hawai’i in partnership with the Akakakanaka tribe. Also sponsoring and attending the conference were Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation, numerous banks, insurance firms, construction firms, law firms, and Rural Community Assistance Corporation (Probably related to Al Hee's $500 Million cable wiring project on Hawaiian Homelands. Al Hee is brother of former OHA chairman Clayton Hee). So much for the claim that the purpose of the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill is to help poor downtrodden Hawaiians! President Dobelle clearly wants to establish the University of Hawai’i as a player in this powerful organization, hoping to channel race-based wealth and power toward UH.
Here between the lines are some excerpts of the Honolulu Advertiser's article of September 12, 2002 reporting President Dobelle's major speech to CNHA:
------------------------- BEGIN ADVERTISER QUOTE HERE
In an impassioned speech to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement yesterday, University of Hawai'i President Evan Dobelle committed the university system to being a force that advances justice for Native Hawaiians.
"The time has long since passed for the university to walk beside you as a partner in achieving Hawaiian parity," he told participants on the opening day of a conference that sponsors hope to hold annually. "The university must be a force that advances justice as surely as it advances our understanding of the oceans, the human mind and the cosmos."
In throwing the strength and power of the university behind the movement to bring Hawaiians more fully into the mainstream as scholars and administrators of the statewide system, Dobelle issued his strongest support yet for Native Hawaiian rights and redress of past injustice. And he said that these were not just Hawaiian issues, but human issues, of concern to everyone in the community.
"By investing more fully in our Center for Hawaiian Studies, and in the presence of Hawaiian scholars throughout the system, the university will do its part to create a critical mass of citizens, young and old, who have had strong Hawaiian role models ... who have come of age in an era where these questions of self-determination and decolonization came to the forefront of political debate," he said.
The new strategic plans adopted for Manoa and the statewide UH system also include strong language backing social justice for Native Hawaiians and a determined push for an increase in the percentage of Hawaiian students.
In closing, Dobelle pledged help in bringing something now imagined to reality:
"It seems to me that those of you who are battling to define your people according to self-defined terms have a dual citizenship — of this state, and of a state yet to come into existence. Of Hawai'i and Ha-va-i'i," he said. "Ha-va-i'i, home of your ancestors, exists now as a state of mind — and with the university as your partner, the Hawaiian community will turn that into a state of being. ... "
-------------------------- END ADVERTISER QUOTE HERE
To summarize: President Dobelle enlisted the University of Hawai'i as a political force fighting for racial supremacy for ethnic Hawaiians. He pledged that UH will work as a strong partner to help Native Hawaiians "redress past injustices"; achieve "self-determination", "decolonization", and "social justice"; and that UH will help push the dream of a nation-state into a reality.
So much for academic freedom! Gone is any hope for serious scholarly discussion of the merits of the activists' historical, legal, and moral claims. President Dobelle has made up his mind that no such discussion is needed. It doesn't matter that instead of a scholarly discussion there has been only a decade-long one-sided harangue. Dobelle gives his blessing to the continued use of UH as a political propaganda machine, with greatly increased funding for the Center For Hawaiian Studies and a strong push for affirmative action to recruit more ethnic Hawaiian students and professors (as long as they hold politically correct views). Dobelle's explicit support for race-based nation-building is especially troubling.
Professors of history and political science will surely understand that the use of a university as a political weapon is typical of totalitarian regimes, or political movements aiming to seize control. Although President Dobelle himself may be a kind-hearted man with no totalitarian intentions, we would do well to remember (and avoid) how universities were used as political weapons within the memory of people still living today. In Germany of 1930-1945, universities were ordered to educate a new generation of German leaders in accord with a monolithic political ideology. Academic departments (history, biology, theology) were expected to provide pseudo-intellectual arguments favorable to Aryan racial supremacy. Research grants, publications, increased budgets and professorships went to departments and individuals who zealously advocated the party line. In Russia, for more than seventy years, Marxist analysis considered unregulated universities and their intellectual elites to be apologists for the bourgeoisie capitalists; and politicians in power relied on that analysis to make sure that professors could only be retained or hired after getting approved by political commissars. Professors of theology at Catholic universities throughout the world traditionally dared not criticize church doctrine too strenuosly, and were expected to get a “nihil obstat” imprimatur before publishing. The professors at UH Center for Hawaiian Studies function, at least informally, as the bishops and cardinals of the established UH religion of ethnic Hawaiian racial supremacy. Only people agreeing with the party line can be hired to teach at CHS. It is claimed that only professors certified as experts by CHS (i.e., following the party line) should be able to teach about Hawaiian history, culture, and sovereignty, either at CHS or in related departments. CHS students are sent to take courses in other departments, or participate in collaborative field projects, only with professors who preach the party line. President Dobelle is sending additional funding to CHS at a time when other departments receive reduced budgets; and he is pledging to provide race-based tuition waivers and race-based affirmative action.
On September 17 a writer for the UH student newspaper "Ka Leo" reported on a huge party at the Center For Hawaiian Studies featuring music, speeches, and free food. The purpose was "to offer information about Kua'ana, a program involved with student development services. The main goal of the program is to "increase matriculation of Native Hawaiian students on the UHM campus. They are trying to get the word out that they have 110 tuition waivers available to qualifying Native Hawaiian students each semester, as well as other supportive services."
At the same time President Dobelle enlisted publicly as a freedom fighter, threats of violence were being made to intimidate staff and students of the UH Academy for Lifelong Learning. A course had been announced on the topic of "Hawaiian Sovereignty: An Alternative View." The course consisted of five 2-hour meetings, for elderly students who would receive no academic credit and pay only a nominal "overhead" fee, to be taught for no pay by Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
Dr. Conklin is well-known among sovereignty activists, and somewhat known in the wider community, as a strong opponent of race-based political sovereignty. The Rice v. Cayetano decision of February 2000 had said that all registered voters regardless of race could vote for trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Conklin thought it was logical that he should be able to run for OHA trustee. After being denied the right to take out nominating papers, solely because of his race, Conklin and a multiracial group of fellow plaintiffs won a lawsuit commonly known as Arakaki #1 which gave all registered voters the right to run for public office regardless of race, and to have a racially unrestricted slate of candidates for whom to vote.
Conklin became the first person with no Hawaiian blood ever to run as a candidate for OHA trustee.
But in addition to that minor claim to momentary fame, Conklin has a large website on Hawaiian sovereignty, and has published numerous newspaper articles on the subject.
The small non-credit short-course on Hawaiian sovereignty, intended for retired scholars and other elderly people, was apparently seen as a huge threat to the UH Hawaiian sovereignty propaganda machine. The director of the Academy for Lifelong Learning received sevaral personal visits in her office during a 2-3 week period from "large, angry Hawaiian-looking men" warning that the course should be cancelled. She also received threatening phone calls. The would-be students, hearing about all this, felt intimidated and dropped their registrations. The director informed Dr. Conklin what had happened. Dr. Conklin demanded that university administrators protect the director and the students from intimidation, arrange a more secure location for the course, and contact the students to reassure them that their safety would be protected. Dr. Conklin also sent the director a list of suggested readings for the first class meeting, asking that it be distributed to students in advance in order to have a more well-informed class lecture/discussion.
At that critical moment, the course was on the brink of permanent cancellation. The word was that all the students had dropped out of fear for their safety. The director was not getting much support from UH administration. The easiest thing for administrators to do would be to simply cancel the course on the grounds that there's nothing they can do if students don't want to take it. Canceling would sweep the matter under the rug and avoid any further difficulties.
But Dr. Conklin had sent an e-mail to a few of his friends describing the situation. The e-mail included comments about the university's history as a propaganda factory for Hawaiian sovereignty, and the total absence of any contrary lectures or courses there. The e-mail got forwarded to some UH administrators, who continued sitting on their hands. Even two months after the intimidation of staff and students and the near-cancellation of the course, there has still been no contact whatever from UH administration to Dr. Conklin or, apparently, to any of the students. The e-mail also got forwarded to a reporter at the Honolulu Advertiser, who did telephone interviews with the director of the Academy for Lifelong Learning, with Dr. Conklin, and with Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa (director of the Center for Hawaiian Studies). As a result, an article was published in the Advertiser on September 5, 2002:
and on September 6 the Advertiser ran an editorial strongly supporting the need for academic freedom and the importance of having a diversity of views at the university.
It is probably because of the newspaper article and the editorial that Conklin's course on Hawaiian sovereignty survived. Without the pubicity, UH administrators could have simply allowed the course to die quietly, thereby giving a victory to intimidation and a defeat to academic freedom.
Further evidence of President Dobelle’s politicization of the university occurred during the election campaign for Governor of Hawai’i in Fall, 2002. A substantial number of ethnic Hawaiian sovereignty activists had made statements in newspaper letters and advertisements strongly opposing Linda Lingle's candidacy, especially during the final week of the campaign. It was in that context that President Dobelle made a TV ad paid for by the Hirono campaign, supporting Hirono for Governor and running during a period of several days immediately before the election. Dobelle's position as UH President made such an ad extremely improper, and produced considerable controversy. Lingle was outraged, and hung up the phone when Dobelle called her. Shortly after Lingle won the election, a UH Trustee resigned in protest against Dobelle's politicization of the university. Even if Lingle is re-elected to a second four-year term, then all 8 years of her governorship will take place during the remaining 8 years of Dobelle’s 10-year contract as UH President. How awkward!
Here are excerpts from two newspaper articles published in the Honolulu Advertiser November 8 and 9, 2002:
University of Hawai'i President Evan Dobelle was on the phone with unpleasant news for Linda Lingle. She should be prepared that night, Dobelle told Lingle, for a television commercial that featured him endorsing her opponent, Mazie Hirono. "He told me it was very complicated," Lingle told The Advertiser yesterday. "I said, 'Actually, Evan, it was very simple.' And I just hung up. "He succumbed to political pressure, and he just shouldn't have done it." Dobelle's endorsement for the losing Democratic candidate got relations between the big-thinking governor-elect and the big-thinking UH president off to a rocky start. Up to that point, Lingle had publicly praised Dobelle as a man of vision who shared the same goal of making UH a world-class institution. Yesterday, Lingle told The Advertiser, "I don't think we're going to be going to dinner anytime soon." A member of the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents has resigned because of Evan Dobelle's endorsement of Mazie Hirono for governor in the days before the election. Mike Hartley, who had been named an interim regent four months ago, is traveling and could not be reached for comment, but Gov. Ben Cayetano confirmed that he left the post because of the UH president's action. Dobelle has said he endorsed the Democratic candidate as an individual and not as UH president, but his action has caused a stir nonetheless.
On November 10, 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin investigative reporter Rob Perez reported that Dobelle’s endorsement of Hirono for governor was both dishonest (in his false statement that he was non-partisan and independent) and also was prompted by political pressure from Senator Dan Inouye (famous for bringing huge federal grants to people and institutions who do his bidding). Following is an excerpt from
"The Dobelle ad ran at a time when polls showed the race was too close to call. In the commercial backing Hirono, Dobelle said he was speaking as an individual. But the ad clearly was designed to capitalize on his popularity as UH president. He spoke of being independent-minded and made no mention of his close ties to the Democratic Party, something that some UH faculty viewed as being intellectually dishonest. Dobelle was treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, served as finance chairman for Jimmy Carter's re-election campaign and was a protocol official in the Carter White House. Dobelle told reporters Friday that no one approached him to make the commercial and that he did it of his own accord. Yet he has told faculty members privately that U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, an influential UH supporter who helps get millions in federal funds for the university annually, urged him to do the ad."
Since the election, Dobelle has continued to politicize the university both internally and externally. In what looks like an exercise in political patronage and influence brokering, he hired the outgoing governor’s chief of staff to a highly paid university administrative position, and he also sent to the incoming governor a UH professor to be her chief policy advisor, with the departing professor’s salary to continue to be paid by UH throughout his term of service as the governor’s adviser. For an analysis of external and internal politicization in general, and the way it works in Dobelle’s UH, see the contents of a letter sent by Dr. Conklin to the UH Board of Regents, the officers of the faculty union, and the chair of the faculty senate:
A full year after Dr. Conklin's course on Hawaiian sovereignty was successfully taught at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa (six two-hour classes), the university president and his henchmen continued to waffle on whether the course was cancelled, whether there were threats and intimidation, and whether the university did anything at the time or since then to support academic freedom on the topic of Hawaiian sovereignty. The university remains a hostile work environment for anyone who opposes the dogmas of the Center for Hawaiian Studies. That continuing hostility at the highest level is demonstrated by President Dobelle's attempt to smear the reputation of Dr. Conklin by stating in September 2003 that Conklin doesn't really have a Ph.D. Even if true, that assertion would be irrelevant to the fact that the university allowed political goons to intimidate a program administrator and a group of students for daring to offer a course they didn't like. But Dr. Conklin does indeed have a Ph.D., as President Dobelle could easily have verified by asking the Dean of Instruction at University of Hawai'i -- Windward, one of the branch campuses that functions under Dobelle's own authority. Dr. Conklin's official transcripts were on file there (and remain on file there) because he was teaching two courses at the Windward campus at the same time he was teaching the Hawaiian sovereignty course at Manoa. An article by reporter Bob Rees was published in The Honolulu Weekly newspaper for October 15-21, 2003 following his own research on the university's continuing failure to admit its errors. Thank goodness this reporter takes academic freedom seriously, and has the integrity and persistence to pursue a year-long inquiry despite stonewalling and obfuscation by powerful university administrators. For the Rees article, see:
The Rees article in the Honolulu Weekly includes this cartoon showing President Dobelle to be a “spinmeister” who twists the truth and misleads people by putting his own “spin” on it.
As year 2003 passed by, President Dobelle encountered increasing opposition within the university's Board of Regents, the university community, and the wider community. Among other difficulties is his lack of candor and straightforwardness. The Conklin incident was only one of many such examples of Dobelle's lying, distorting, stonewalling, and running roughshod over the rights of administrators, faculty, and students. Collegiality is severely wounded, and morale is very low. It appears the Board of Regents gave Dobelle a less than satisfactory job performance evaluation, which he refused to make public (invoking the right of any staff member of the university to maintain confidentiality of personnel matters). Here is an unusually lengthy editorial, complete with section-headings, expressing the Honolulu Advertiser’s deep concern over President Dobelle’s inability to provide consensual leadership. The editorial was accompanied by an editorial cartoon published along with it, holding Dobelle up to public ridicule.
The Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, December 14, 2003
Board-Dobelle rift risks future of UH
It is in the nature of universities that there is a level of, say, creative tension between their presidents and their policy boards.
So a certain amount of tension between University of Hawai'i President Evan Dobelle and the current UH Board of Regents would not be surprising. But the public disagreement between the Dobelle administration and the regents goes far beyond what might be expected.
Toxic relationship is feared
The fear is that the relationship between the president and the regents could become so toxic, so disagreeable that the only solution is to end it. And in that scenario, the one to go would be Dobelle, not the current Board of Regents.
That would be a disaster for the university. For years, UH has struggled to overcome a reputation as a place where local politics matters more than academics.
Rightly or wrongly, if Dobelle is pushed aside over differences between himself and the board, that reputation will be reinforced. What potential candidate for the presidency of a public university would want to step in as a replacement? Already, public universities across the country are having a hard time finding strong candidates for this difficult job.
The plain fact, then, is that Dobelle and the Board of Regents must find a way to work together for the greater good of the university and its future.
That calls for flexibility on both sides.
The record shows that the day-to-day relationship between the university administration and the regents has been relatively productive. But below the surface harmony is a level of tension that has to be harmful to the overall health of the university.
It showed up most recently over the matter of Dobelle's annual evaluation by the board. Some regents have been pushing to make this evaluation public, a proposal Dobelle has objected to in the strongest of terms.
Public deserves clear vision
While it might not make sense to publish the evaluation itself, the public has a right to know where the vision and direction of the board and Dobelle differ. While we do have a strategic plan for the university, the public deserves a more focused statement representing both the board and Dobelle that sets out a distinct and coherent joint set of expectations for the Dobelle administration.
If the regents lack confidence that Dobelle can meet such expectations, they should tell him (and us) and pay the expensive price in terms of a contract buy-out it will take to make the change. If not, they need to work cooperatively with Dobelle to make necessary performance changes.
To some degree, Dobelle must take responsibility for whatever coolness there is between himself and the current majority on the board.
Dobelle had different style
Part of it is simply style. Dobelle brought to the university a certain East Coast brashness and confidence that does not fit well with the Hawai'i style of humility and quiet consensus.
But Dobelle also made certain hard decisions that led to uncertainty and — perhaps in a few cases — fear on campus. This included his issuing of pre-emptive termination notices to large numbers of nonunion administrators.
And then he somewhat brusquely shook up the leadership team at the university, leaving out some longtime campus leaders and bringing in a high-priced cadre of his own.
On the other side of the coin, the Board of Regents appears to have an agenda designed to bring Dobelle to heel, if not to force him out. Members of the board have been openly critical of Dobelle without clearly stating what alternative they would prefer.
Politics plays a role
Some suspect the working majority on the board has a political agenda, since they were appointed by Gov. Linda Lingle. Lingle, as everyone remembers, was more than annoyed during the recent gubernatorial campaign when Dobelle publicly endorsed her opponent, Democrat Mazie Hirono.
But it must be said that the previous board, largely appointed by Democrat Ben Cayetano, also had its differences with the president. It would be a mistake to lay this all on local politics.
At the end of the day, both Dobelle and the board must get beyond their short-term differences. What is at stake here is the reputation and future of Hawai'i's only public system of higher education.
After years of budget squeezing, faculty union unrest and ennui, UH is poised for growth and greatness. It has a degree of autonomy (won largely through the efforts of former President Kenneth Mortimer) that should enable it to make creative and independent choices.
To lose that potential to petty politics, personality differences or power games would be a shame this state should not be asked to endure.
Accompanying the above editorial was this cartoon:
The above item described President Dobelle’s conflicts with the UH Board of Trustees. The following item published three weeks later describes his conflicts with the Legislature of the State of Hawai’i. In both cases the conflicts are caused by his constant distortion and spinning of the truth -- his intentional misleading of reporters, trustees, and legislators.
Hawaii Reporter on-line newspaper, January 9, 2004
By Malia Zimmerman
The World According to Evan Dobelle … Half Truths, Mistruths …
University of Hawaii President Evan Dobelle testified before the Senate Ways and Means committee yesterday afternoon, to explain the University's financial situation and plans for the future, which require additional state funding. He made specific requests for the supplemental budget in 2005.
Senators at the hearing appeared perplexed by many of Dobelle answers. That included his response to questions posed by Senate Vice President Donna Kim, D-Kalihi, and Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai, who asked Dobelle about past promises he made and what has happened since. That included a promise to replace the $1 million he and his wife Kit spent to spruce up the president's house before moving in two years ago, which was documented in an article by Treena Shapiro published in Nov. 2001 in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Shapiro reports the cost of renovating and furnishing the University of Hawaii president's residence at College Hill ballooned to more than double the original estimates for a reported total of $1 million. Furniture also exceeded more than $100,000, but Dobelle would not disclose the final total for furniture, saying the University of Hawaii's private foundation paid for the furniture, so the cost would be kept confidential.
Dobelle had promised lawmakers in past hearings, also documented in Shapiro's article, that he would raise the $1 million from private donors to repay the University for fixing up his residence, possibly even naming rooms after donors. However, when asked by lawmakers yesterday where the $1 million is, he said he never promised to repay the funds. He then said the house was not his personal home, rather the university's property, so he shouldn't have to repay the funds and that the renovations were planned and begun before he moved in.
Another twilight zone like experience with Dobelle -- he was asked about his formerly announced plans for the University to acquire Aloha Stadium -- plans also documented in the mainstream media. Dobelle denied knowing anything about the plan and shrugged off any reference to the documentation of his plans in the media.
Another major promise Dobelle made to lawmakers in 2001 was to raise on his own from private funding sources, $150 million of a total of $300 million for to expand the University of Hawaii, including building the John A. Burns Medical Center and Cancer Research Institute in Kakaako. First he told Kim, Slom and other committee members that he had not asked for any private funding as yet and then said U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye had promised Dobelle he'd get money for him, ranging from about one-third to one-half of the $150 million. Seemingly prepared for that answer, Kim said she called Inouye and Inouye's staff told her he had not made that pledge. However, Dobelle continued to maintain Inouye pledged to help him in a private meeting saying "the Senator said I was authorized to say this." Kim and Slom pointed out that even if the senior Senator were to secure government funds, they were not private funds. Dobelle did not respond to that statement. Then Slom reiterated in the interest of clarity -- did president Dobelle say that he had not yet asked anyone for private funds. Even though everyone in the packed room, including the media present, heard the president say that minutes earlier, Dobelle responded that his comments were in his testimony -- they were not.
Finally, Dobelle was questioned on a comment he made while testifying yesterday about his plans to build yet another University campus, this time in Kakaako. Several lawmakers have fought for a number of years for a campus in West Oahu, but their efforts have been thwarted because of the high cost of constructing, maintaining and operating the facility. So these lawmakers on the Ways and Means committee were surprised by Dobelle's suggestion that another campus that he just envisioned and had no funding for would some how appear in his "vision."
Slom also asked Dobelle about his request last year for $80 million to fund the University's "strategic plans for excellence." Dobelle did not get the money, so Slom asked if Dobelle, like any CEO would without funding, had re-evaluated and altered his plans. Dobelle said he had not and said in fact, he now needs $100 million for his "plans for excellence."
The UH Board of Trustees has been attempting to finalize its annual evaluation of President Dobelle’s performance for 9 months, and has not yet reached closure. As of February 2004, Dobelle is still dodging, weaving, threatening lawsuits, etc. It looks like the Board might like to fire him, but knows that it is bound by a long-term contract they gave him which would cost several million dollars to buy out. Thus the trustees need to show that Dobelle is failing his performance criteria and can be fired for cause.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 11, 2004
Regents to discuss Dobelle in private
By Craig Gima
A University Board of Regents committee plans another closed-door meeting Friday to discuss a disputed evaluation of UH President Evan Dobelle. The evaluation process has dragged on since May with several private executive sessions, including one in which Dobelle threatened to sue the board, according to sources. The review is reportedly critical of his performance.
Patricia Lee, chairwoman of the Board of Regents, said the board completed its evaluation in November and would like to move on. She said the regents have met with Dobelle, who also expressed that last year's evaluation was finished and that he, too, would like to move forward.
The regents were expecting a letter from Dobelle last month to confirm his statements, but they have not received the letter, so the Personnel and Legal Affairs Committee has scheduled an executive session meeting for Friday, Lee said. "We're confused because we want to know where the president stands," Lee said. "We would like to sit down with him and complete the evaluation."
Committee Chairwoman Kitty Lagareta said the regents will also discuss, in open session, the procedures for this year's evaluation. She said the evaluation process might be sped up so it can be finished before up to six new board members take office in July. Dobelle objected to the evaluation process last year because it began in May but continued after new regents were appointed by Gov. Linda Lingle. The new regents were not on the board during the year that was being evaluated, he said. "One of the president's concerns is that the board is changing, and although we contacted all the regents who had ever worked with him for the last review, we wanted to be respectful of his wishes that the third-year review take place with people working with him rather than any new board members," Lagareta said yesterday.
The board might also discuss hiring an outside consultant to conduct the review. "His contract calls for a complete third-year review," Lagareta said. "We want to make sure we do that. We also want to do that justice. We're discussing the best process for fulfilling that responsibility."
Dobelle did not return a call asking for comment.
Carolyn Tanaka, a UH spokeswoman, said she was not aware of the specifics of the meeting. "According to the hearing notice, it's going to be on the president's evaluation," she said. "That's all we know." When asked if Dobelle would attend Friday's meeting, she said Dobelle would be at UH on Friday and that it would be up to the regents if he is part of the executive session.
Dobelle's apparently unfavorable evaluation last year appears to have caused a rift between the board and the president.
The Star-Bulletin and other news media have requested a copy of the evaluation and a set of goals for the president. But the regents and Dobelle say the evaluation is a private personnel matter and does not have to be made public. The state Office of Information Practices is working on a legal opinion that may be completed next month on whether the public should be allowed to see the evaluation and performance goals.
President Dobelle had barely finished his evaluation process for the previous year when it was time for him to be evaluated again for the current year. His evaluation is ongoing and continuous, as the university trustees and the public monitor his performance. This ongoing skeptical scrutiny prompted Star-Bulletin cartoonist Corky to publish the following cartoon on February 24, 2004. The cartoon was originally published at
On Sunday, June 13, 2004 the headline story in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin said “UH regents considering whether to fire Dobelle.” The lengthy article included descriptions of his job performance, his pay and incentives, and his “golden parachute” (what the University would be forced to pay him in order to get rid of him before his contract expires)
Honolulu Star-Bulletin Sunday, June 13, 2004
UH regents considering whether to fire Dobelle
The president's contract calls for $2.26 million severence payment if he is terminated
By Craig Gima
University of Hawaii regents are wrestling with whether to fire UH President Evan Dobelle, a move that could cost the university $2.26 million in severance pay.
Several regents, who talked to the Star-Bulletin under condition of anonymity, emphasized that no decision has been made and that they have not yet discussed with each other whether to end Dobelle's contract.
However, after listening to information presented during a closed-door meeting June 2 on Dobelle's third-year evaluation, the regents acknowledged that when the board meets again Tuesday morning they expect to talk about whether Dobelle should go.
Not all the regents agree. Regent James Haynes dismissed talk of firing the president as "irresponsible" and "conjecture."
One regent cautioned that because they have not discussed the issue, it is difficult to predict what they will do and that there are several options the board can take short of firing Dobelle. The regent would not go into detail about those options.
During the June 2 evaluation meeting, regents heard from Dobelle, who presented a self-evaluation of more than 500 pages detailing his accomplishments during his three years as UH president.
Regents also heard by phone from Florida-based consultant Robert Atwell, who was hired to do the evaluation, and from auditors who raised questions about Dobelle's spending from a $200,000 a year protocol fund at the UH Foundation.
Regents were able to ask questions of Atwell, the auditors and a task force made up of five regents about information gathered for the evaluation. But because of a legal interpretation of the sunshine law, they are not able to discuss the evaluation with each other until Tuesday.
When asked on June 2 whether he thought his job was in jeopardy, Dobelle replied that the regents cannot fire him; they have to buy out the remaining four years on his contract.
He also said he hoped that he and the regents could reach agreement on goals and performance expectations for the next year as part of the evaluation process.
Dobelle did not return a phone call late last week asking for further comment. UH spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said Dobelle was traveling on vacation.
Tanaka said she was not sure if the president would be back to attend Tuesday's meeting.
According to Star-Bulletin calculations, if Dobelle is terminated without cause, he would receive about $496,000 from an incentive fund set up to encourage him to stay for the full seven years of his contract, plus about $1.76 million as payment for the remainder of his contract
The $2.2 million severance payment is a major factor for undecided regents as they consider whether to end Dobelle's employment.
One regent has spent hours reviewing documents and other information presented earlier this month and is "struggling" with what to do Tuesday.
The relationship between the regents and Dobelle has been deteriorating since last year's evaluation of the president. The regents gave him a negative second-year review and Dobelle refused to accept the goals and performance objectives that the regents set up for him.
Dobelle said the evaluation process was flawed and overly secret. He complained that six new regents were appointed to the board in the middle of the process and the new regents did not observe him during the year for which he was evaluated.
Gov. Linda Lingle appointed the regents to fill vacancies created by resignations and normal turnover.
One of the resignations was prompted by Dobelle's appearance in a television commercial endorsing Lingle's opponent, Mazie Hirono, just before the November 2002 election.
As they evaluate Dobelle, regents are also reviewing a follow-up report from the accrediting body for UH-Manoa, UH-Hilo and UH-West Oahu. The report from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges was finished last month, but has not yet been made public by the administration, pending a WASC meeting at the end of this week and the issuance of an "action letter" confirming recommendations for improvement.
Sources said the report on the UH system administration is critical of the regents for micromanaging the university, but is also critical of Dobelle for a lack of leadership. It encouraged him and the regents to fix the problem between them.
Ralph Wolff, the WASC executive director, said last year's WASC report found "real promise" in the system administration set up by Dobelle, but also "serious concerns" about governance, administration, finance and strategic planning.
The concerns were serious enough to prompt another review this year on how issues at the system level could affect the accreditation of UH-Manoa, UH-Hilo, and UH-West Oahu, Wolff said.
During the accreditation team's visit earlier this year, the UH-Manoa Faculty Senate passed a resolution expressing "no confidence" in the system administration.
Former interim regent Ted Hong, who did not participate in the June 2 evaluation meeting, said a change in the membership of the regents is also putting pressure on the board to make a decision this month.
The terms of two regents -- Walter Nunokawa and Charles Kawakami -- end on June 30 and up to four new regents will take office beginning in July.
"(For the new regents), any kind of personnel decision at that high level will take some time," Hong said. "If something doesn't happen at the next meeting, it's going to get postponed for a while."
The board is made up of four Cayetano administration appointees, including chairwoman Patricia Lee, and six Lingle appointees, including Personnel Committee Chairwoman and board Vice Chairwoman Kitty Lagareta. There are two vacancies.
John Douglass of the University of California Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education said a successful relationship between a board and a university president requires mutual respect and a high level of confidence.
"There has to be a working relationship. If not, you're basically talking about a dysfunctional governing system," Douglass said.
However, in disputes between public university boards and presidents, the board is the ultimate authority, he said. "The president serves under the pleasure of the board."
UH President Evan Dobelle's contract calls for him to receive 30 days notice if he is terminated without cause. He will be paid his salary for the remaining years of the seven-year agreement plus an incentive payment of $150,000 a year with interest of 5 percent annually for each year he has worked.
4 years at $442,000 a year = $1,768,000
$150,000 + $7,500 interest, 2001-2002
$150,000 + $15,375 interest on $307,500, 2002-2003
$150,000 + $23,644 interest on $472,875, 2003-2004
Total incentive: $496,519
Total severance: $2,264,519
Dobelle would not receive his severance payment if he is terminated for cause. Cause is defined in his contract as: Conviction for a felony offense; A determination by doctors that the president is mentally unstable or otherwise unable to perform the duties of his office; Conduct of the president that (a) constitutes moral turpitude, (b) brings public disrespect and contempt or ridicule upon the university, and (c) proven in a court of law, would constitute grounds for criminal conviction of the president or civil liability of the university.
Assessing the UH president's job performance
These are some of the accomplishments over the last three years that UH President Evan Dobelle cites in his self-evaluation:
Academic Management and Leadership
• Creating a vision for the university
• Reorganizing the UH system administration
• Raising morale and expectations
• $20 million Banner student information computer system
• Workforce development initiatives
• Creating a strategic plan for the next 10 years
• Beginning construction of the $300 million biomedical center in Kakaako
• A new six-year contract with faculty that will raise salaries by 31 percent
• P-20 initiative for improving education from preschool through graduate school
• Launching of the Academy for Creative Media
• A nearly 50 percent increase in research and training funds since 2001
• A nearly 9 percent increase in enrollment from fall 2001 to fall 2003
Budget, Planning, Financial Management and Fund-raising
• Starting the process of "stocktaking" in preparation for the next budget
• First two fiscal years ended with budget surpluses
• The UH Foundation's Centennial Campaign raises $43 million from July 1, 2002, to March 31, 2004, on its way to a goal of $200 million by 2007
Internal and External Relations
• Creation of a Hawaii Public Television talk show called "One on One," featuring celebrities and academics
• Creation of a public affairs program on KHNL-TV and a radio talk show on KKEA as part of the television and radio sports contracts
• Creation of "UH Day" at the state Capitol to showcase the university for lawmakers
• Strengthening UH ties to the Asia-Pacific region
These are some of the criticisms of UH President Evan Dobelle over the last three years cited in the UH Regents' 2002-2003 evaluation:
Academic Management and Leadership
• Politicizing the university with the endorsement of a gubernatorial candidate
• Unclear separation of system and campus administrations and budgets
• Unclear academic vision
• Undergraduate education not a priority
• Taking too much credit for higher enrollment and research and training fund increases
Administrative Management and Leadership
• "Cronyism" in hiring former contacts for consultant contracts and top administrators
• High salaries of top administrators
Budget, Planning, Financial Management and Fund-raising >> Communication gap with the board on finances
• Flawed budgeting process
• Confusion over how funds are allocated to each campus
• Classes cut or not offered because of lack of funds
• Deterioration of buildings due to lack of maintenance
• Lack of follow-up on raising $1 million for renovation of College Hill
• Lack of a clean plan and follow-up on raising $150 million for Kakaako biomedical center campus
• Poor handling of UH logo contract
• Perception of a cavalier and irresponsible attitude toward public funds and fiscal management
Internal and External Relations
• "You vs. us" relationship with board
• Concern over lavish travel spending
• Credibility gap with legislature and governor
• Making promises or commitments without proper authority
On Wednesday, June 16, 2004 the oversized headlines in both the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin screamed out “DOBELLE FIRED” The firing took place during a 12-hour-long meeting of the Board of Trustees, with advice from the board’s attorney. The complete articles are copied below. Both articles take note of the strong support for Dobelle expressed in recent days by the Center for Hawaiian Studies and the Hawaiian sovereignty activists.
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Wednesday, June 16, 2004
A UH regent announces that the school's president "no longer has our trust"
Dobelle is sacked "for cause," which means he won't be paid $2.26 million
By Craig Gima
The University of Hawaii Board of Regents fired UH President Evan Dobelle "for cause" last night after a 12-hour meeting, much of it behind closed doors.
About 8:30 p.m., board Chairwoman Patricia Lee issued a statement saying: "Sadly, we have come to the realization that the president no longer has our trust, and there is no longer a unity of purpose between the board and the president or a clear recognition of his integrity, character, and commitment."
The vote was unanimous, Lee said.
"This is the most difficult decision ever to be made by the regents," she said. But she added that the board believes it is the "right decision at the right time."
Vice President for Academic Affairs David McClain was named acting UH president, "effective immediately."
Lee said the board has been working with McClain and UH Chief of Staff Sam Callejo for the past year and both have their trust. She said they expect the day-to-day operation of the university to continue as usual.
In a statement issued late last night, Gov. Linda Lingle said, "The Board of Regents' decision reflects what it believes is in the best interest of the University of Hawaii system and its students.
"As additional information is made available by the board in the coming days, we will have a clearer understanding of the reasons for President Dobelle's dismissal and what the university's next steps are."
Dobelle is on vacation on the mainland and is not scheduled to return to the university until next week. The board attempted to reach Dobelle for several hours last night at his hotel room. Lee said they were able to tell Dobelle's wife about his firing, but they did not talk to him.
Lee said Dobelle has been placed on administrative leave with pay. Once he is officially notified, his salary will continue for 30 days. Per his contract, Dobelle will also have the use of the president's official residence at College Hill for 60 days.
Regents would not say what the "cause" is for the president's dismissal. But the phrase is important because if Dobelle is fired for cause, he will not get the $2.26 million buy-out of his contract.
Dobelle's contract defines "cause" as either conviction for a felony offense; a determination by doctors that he is mentally unstable or otherwise unable to perform the duties of his office; or conduct that constitutes "moral turpitude," bringing public disrespect or ridicule upon the university.
Lee would not speculate about whether Dobelle's termination will lead to a lawsuit. She referred questions about "cause" to UH Vice President for Legal Affairs Walter Kirimitsu.
Dobelle has been criticized for politicizing the university by endorsing a gubernatorial candidate; taking too much credit for higher enrollment and research and training fund increases; hiring former contacts for consultant contracts and top administrators; paying high salaries to top administrators; having a communications gap with the board on finances; and spending lavishly on travel.
Dobelle's dismissal doesn't necessarily mean he will leave the university. Dobelle is also a tenured professor in the Urban and Regional Planning department at UH-Manoa.
UH spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said another agreement calls for Dobelle to be paid the "highest prevailing salary" should he decide to stay and either teach or do research at Manoa. The current highest-paid full professor in the department is paid $94,896, Tanaka said.
J.N. Musto, executive director of the UH Professional Assembly, said it is not unusual for UH executives to return to positions in the union with six figure salaries.
Earlier yesterday, Dobelle issued a written statement saying that he welcomed a "fair and thoughtful review of my work as president of the University of Hawaii."
Before yesterday's closed-door meeting, regents heard from about a dozen native Hawaiian faculty and students, who urged them to keep Dobelle as president.
"I don't believe you're going to find a better man to do the job," said Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, director of the Center for Hawaiian Studies, speaking for the Kuali'i Council at UH-Manoa, a group dedicated to recruiting more native Hawaiians into the university, and to creating a Hawaiian place of learning on campus.
Kame'eleihiwa said Dobelle is a strong supporter of native Hawaiians. She said he gave $1.5 million for native Hawaiian programs at the university in his first year in office. He has also acknowledged that the university sits on ceded lands and because of that, the university has a responsibility to native Hawaiians, she said.
"We don't want him to be fired. We want him here to support us," she said.
In a written statement, the Kuali'i Council also called for the regents to resign unless they can refrain from making anonymous statements to the press. In a Sunday article, the Star-Bulletin quoted unnamed regents who said they expected to discuss whether to fire Dobelle at yesterday's meeting.
Kuali'i Council members also carried signs "Fire Anonymous Regents," "Hawaiians Aloha Dobelle" and "Evaluate Regents."
In his written statement, Dobelle criticized the "total violation of the evaluation process by the inaccurate and sensational public comment of anonymous regents."
He said he expected that the regents would review his evaluation during yesterday's meeting, send him a written statement that he could respond to, and then meet again to finalize the evaluation process.
The regents have been publicly feuding with Dobelle since a closed-door meeting in September when the regents gave him a negative second-year evaluation. Dobelle also refused to accept the goals and performance expectations that the regents set for him.
Dobelle complained that several new regents appointed by Gov. Linda Lingle were part of the evaluation, even though they did not serve during the year he was being evaluated for. He also complained the evaluation process was overly secret.
Dobelle's relationship with Lingle got off to a rocky start after he publicly endorsed then-Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, Lingle's opponent in the 2002 gubernatorial election.
Earlier yesterday, Musto said it is hard to know what was going on between the regents and the president.
"The only obvious thing is that there is a lack of trust, whether that's justified or unjustified," he said. "If the people that you work for don't trust you, then you're in an impossible situation."
[continuation of the same article]
Evan Dobelle, from beginning to end
A timeline of Evan Dobelle's tenure as UH president:
>> June 29, 2001: Kenneth Mortimer leaves after eight years as president of the University of Hawaii and chancellor of UH-Manoa.
>> July 1, 2001: Evan Dobelle becomes the 12th president of the University of Hawaii with an annual salary of $442,000. His seven-year contract calls for him to be paid his full salary and a bonus if he is fired without cause.
>> Aug. 26, 2002: Board of Regents Chairman Bert Kobayashi praises Dobelle and cites his many accomplishments after the board finishes its first-year evaluation of his performance.
>> November 2002: Dobelle, acting as an individual, appears in television commercials to endorse Democratic Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono for governor.
>> Nov. 9, 2002: UH regent Mike Hartley resigns in large part because of Dobelle's endorsement of Hirono.
>> Jan. 10, 2003: Big Island businessman Allan Ikawa resigns from the Board of Regents.
>> March 21, 2003: The state auditor criticizes what she says is the UH's mismanagement of its special funds accounts.
>> April 24, 2003: The state Senate confirms Gov. Linda Lingle's nominations of Kitty Lagareta, Trent Kakuda, Alvin Tanaka and Byron Bender to the Board of Regents. Two other nominees, Shelton Jim On and Edward Sultan, are rejected.
>> May 8, 2003: Lingle names Ted Hong and Jane Tatibouet as interim regents.
>> July 6, 2003: "Dangerous Equations," an essay by state lawmakers and UH faculty critical of Dobelle's spending practices and leadership at UH, is published in the Star-Bulletin. The following week, the Star-Bulletin publishes an essay written by Dobelle called "Embracing Hope" that sets out his accomplishments.
>> April 2: A critical evaluation by regents of Dobelle's performance and a set of goals and expectations for the UH president is released.
>> June 2: Regents consider Dobelle's third-year evaluation and an audit of the spending from his protocol fund.
>> June 15: Regents unanimously fire Dobelle.
The Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Regents fire Dobelle
By Beverly Creamer and Derrick Depledge
Advertiser Education Writers
In a unanimous decision last night, the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents fired president Evan Dobelle and said he had been terminated "for cause."
A firing for cause, unless successfully challenged in the litigation that is likely to follow, frees the university from paying out a $2.2 million severance package for Dobelle.
David McClain, vice president for academic affairs, was named acting president.
"Sadly, we have come to the realization that (Dobelle) no longer has our trust, and there is no longer the unity of purpose between the board and the president, or a clear recognition of his integrity, character and commitment," board chairwoman Patricia Lee said in a statement announcing the termination at about 8:40 p.m.
With the other regents standing behind her, Lee said Dobelle had been terminated "for cause." She did not elaborate.
The specific cause of termination will be referred to Walter Kirimitsu, the board's legal counsel, and he said it will be announced by the board as early as today.
According to Dobelle's contract, termination for cause is limited to one of the following: conviction of a felony, a determination by medical professionals that he is mentally unstable or conduct that constitutes moral turpitude, brings public disrespect and contempt or ridicule on the university and if proven in court, would constitute grounds for his criminal conviction or the university's civil liability.
Dobelle, who is traveling with family on a college trip for his son Harry, could not be reached for comment.
Lee said last night that regents had been trying for several hours to contact him and had reached his wife Kit, but he had not returned their calls..
Earlier this week, Dobelle called a published report — based on comments from anonymous regents that the board was considering firing him — "a total violation of the evaluation process."
Lee was asked about potential legal action and said she could not comment.
"Clearly this is the most difficult decision ever to be made by the regents," Lee said. "However, we are confident that we have made the right decision at the right time and our beloved University of Hawai'i will continue to move forward successfully."
According to his contract, Dobelle will be permitted to stay in College Hill, his official residence, for 60 days.
He stays on the payroll for 30 days on official leave.
Last night's announcement came after a 12-hour closed-door session. The agenda listed a discussion of Dobelle's performance and an audit of his $200,000 protocol fund.
The audit by the accounting firm of Deloitte and Touche touches on a number of areas dealing with travel, reimbursements, credit card charges and personal expenses. Dobelle has responded to all of the criticisms, has made reimbursements as necessary, and has changed a number of procedures to standardize reimbursement policy.
Dobelle turned to legal counsel in asking the State Office of Information Practices to evaluate whether the regents had violated state sunshine laws, with the OIP saying that some regulations had been overlooked by the regents. They specifically changed the agenda, and did not give Dobelle the opportunity to make a meeting involving his evaluation public which was his right.
In later days they offered Dobelle every opportunity to open evaluation meetings to the public but he declined.
While both sides said they were putting differences behind them at the end of that process, regents had increased their level of oversight of the university president, his spending, and administration of the 10-campus system.
Two days ago, regent Vice Chairman Kitty Lagareta said the rocky relationship couldn't continue and likened it to a marriage where the partners were always fighting.
But she stopped short of saying the regents would be considering his dismissal — saying that each individual is an independent thinker and the board had yet to discuss his evaluation. Nor had the board discussed buying out Dobelle's contract, said Lagareta at that time.
A buyout would have included paying him an annual salary for the remaining four years of his contract, plus three years of accrued incentive payments. The total would be more than $2 million.
Dobelle came to UH in 2001 after serving as president of Trinity College and the former leader of City College of San Francisco. He succeeded President Kenneth Mortimer, who left the university after eight often tumultuous years.
Dobelle arrived in Hawai'i with great promise, an unconventional leader who described himself as someone who could make things happen.
Comfortable in both academic and political circles — he was the one-time treasurer of the Democratic National Committee and chief of protocol at the White House under President Carter — Dobelle was seen as the right man to bring the university out of years of crisis mode.
Hired at an annual salary of $442,000 and given a home at the president's residence at College Hill in Manoa, Dobelle became the most richly compensated UH president in history, and among the highest paid in the nation.
As regents gathered yesterday for a closed-door meeting on the president's current evaluation, they were met by a contingent of faculty and students from the Kuali'i Native Hawaiian Advisory Council showing support for the president and asking the regents to be fair in their evaluation.
"We believe as Native Hawaiians that President Dobelle is the only university president who has supported us in the history of the University of Hawai'i," said Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, director of the University of Hawai'i-Manoa Center for Hawaiian Studies.
"We don't want him fired. We don't think you're going to find a better man to do the job."
Board Chairwoman Lee said the board is "about fairness and openness" and she said that under the law the regents are allowed "to consider dismissal."
Former Gov. Ben Cayetano said he was surprised that the regents acted to fire Dobelle when he was away on a family trip. "No class. That is absolutely no class," he said. "That kind of tells you what the regents are all about."
Cayetano said it may be difficult for the university to recruit a top-notch replacement given the manner in which they dismissed Dobelle, who had a good reputation nationally before coming to Hawai'i.
"The problem with this town is that people have a difficult time dealing with change," Cayetano said.
State Rep. K. Mark Takai, D-34th (Pearl City, Newtown, Royal Summit), the chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, who has been critical of Dobelle over administrative salaries and other issues, said he would not second-guess the regents' decision.
"For the sake of the university, we need to put this behind us and move forward," Takai said.
Surprisingly, it might be a lack of political instinct that got Dobelle into trouble and contributed to the partisan climate that led to his undoing.
Dobelle's decision to publicly endorse Democrat Mazie Hirono over Lingle soured his relationship with the future Republican governor, who later said that she hung up on Dobelle when he told her the news.
Lingle eventually ended a past practice of inviting the university president — or the state school superintendent — to Cabinet meetings, a signal that Dobelle was not in step with the Lingle administration's agenda. Lingle's appointments to the Board of Regents have been among those most critical of Dobelle.
"He made a terrible political mistake," said Daniel Boylan, a history professor at UH-West O'ahu who was on the search committee that recommended Dobelle. "He had absolutely no right as president of the university to do that.
"It didn't make sense."
In a statement last night Lingle said, "The Board of Regents' decision reflects what it believes is in the best interest of the University of Hawai'i system and its students," said Gov. Linda Lingle in a statement. "As additional information is made available by the board in the coming days, we will have a clearer understanding of the reasons for president Dobelle's dismissal and what the university's next steps will be."
HIS YEARS AT UH
July 2001: Evan Dobelle takes over as the 12th president of the University of Hawai'i. At a salary of $442,000 plus benefits, he becomes the most richly compensated president in UH history. His contract runs through June 2008.
November 2001: Dobelle hires two former associates to be chief financial officer and vice president for external affairs. Their annual salaries are set at $227,000 and $184,000, respectively.
November 2001: Dobelle unveils ambitious plans for a Kaka'ako biotechnology park, which is expected to include a new medical school, the Cancer Research Center and the Pacific Biomedical Research Center.
August 2002: The UH Board of Regents praises Dobelle in his first evaluation, ticking off a string of accomplishments, especially in bringing about "a change in attitude" throughout the system.
September 2002: Dobelle turns down a $28,000 pay raise approved by the regents.
November 2002: Dobelle, speaking as a private citizen in a television spot, endorses Democrat Mazie Hirono in the race for governor.
May 2003: The first of a number of appointees to the Board of Regents by Gov. Linda Lingle are seated. Ultimately, she will appoint eight members to the 12-member board.
April 2004: An outside consultant is hired to conduct Dobelle's third-year evaluation.
Dobelle's relationship with the board had been deteriorating for the past year, showing up in flashes of temper on both sides during monthly meetings and a protracted dispute over his second-year evaluation.
On Thursday, June 17, 2004 the Honolulu Star-Bulletin published a page 1 headline story, and several sub-stories, about the firing of President Dobelle. Photographs were published of professors and students from the Center for Hawaiian Studies wearing their red shirts at the Board of Regents meeting. The news reports make clear that the Hawaiian activists viewed President Dobelle as their ally. They now want to support him as he supported them. According to the article there were several dozen red-shirts present.
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Thursday June 17, 2004
FIRING SHAKES UH
http://starbulletin.com/2004/06/17/news/art1a.jpg Photo caption:
Acting University of Hawaii President David McClain, right, and the Board of Regents listen to grievances yesterday from Jon Osorio, director of Hawaiian studies, during a meeting at the Campus Center on the UH-Manoa campus.
Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, right, outgoing director of the University of Hawaii Center for Hawaiian Studies, was among those who addressed the UH Board of Regents at its meeting yesterday morning.
Hawaiians decry loss of top UH ally
Students demand reasons for firing
By Rosemarie Bernardo
Dozens of native Hawaiian students and faculty at the University of Hawaii protested the regents' decision to fire UH President Evan Dobelle, whom they considered a strong supporter of their community.
"It felt like a stab in the heart," said Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, outgoing director of the Center for Hawaiian Studies. "Three years is a very short time for a president to prove what he can do. I would've expected them to give him six years."
Several dozen protesters attended yesterday morning's board meeting at the UH Campus Center. Some said they feared that native Hawaiian programs will be in danger without Dobelle's strong support.
Regents Chairwoman Patricia Lee assured them that the board will continue to support native Hawaiian programs, which "will not be jeopardized by Evan Dobelle's departure."
"The promotion of native Hawaiian studies and culture is a key part of our strategic plan," she said.
Lee noted the regents spearheaded a $500,000 allocation this year for the University of Hawaii-Hilo's Hawaiian Languages program.
"While the board's decision (to fire Dobelle) may not be supported by everyone, we would like you to know that the decision was unanimous because the board has access to information to which the public is not privy," she added.
Lee noted that the belief that native Hawaiian programs at the University of Hawaii are in jeopardy is an "unfounded fear."
"(Interim President) David McClain is just as committed, and so is the chancellor and so is the board," she said.
Kame'eleihiwa told the board: "We decided to come here today and to express our views and what's in our hearts and hope that the regents would hear what we have to say, because obviously, yesterday they didn't pay attention. We were there (Tuesday morning) and said, 'Please don't fire President Dobelle,' and they fired him anyway."
Kame'eleihiwa said officials from the Center of Hawaiian Studies plan to attend every board meeting to ensure that their strategic plans for native Hawaiian students are met.
"President Dobelle gave me hope," said Leialii Manoi, a graduate student majoring in Pacific Islands studies. "I'm very shocked. I'm kind of perturbed."
On Friday, June 18, 2004 an important article was published in an on-line newspaper “Hawaii Reporter.” The article, by Ken Conklin, analyzes how universities are politicized, with special attention to the way President Dobelle politicized the University of Hawai’i regarding Hawaiian sovereignty.
You may now visit any of the following:
Expanded introduction explaining how all the below-listed pieces fit into the big picture at the University of Hawai'i
(1) A look at the racial supremacist doctrine which is the CHS party line and which President Dobelle actively supports; and a comparison with the fundamental democratic principles of unity, equality, and aloha for all.
(2) A discussion of the UH propaganda factory known as the Center for Hawaiian Studies, and why its monolithic party line in support of racial supremacy has become the unchallenged orthodoxy in every academic department that shares students and curriculum with CHS
(3) A review of the short history of President Dobelle’s tenure as President at UH, focusing on his aggressiveness in pushing the CHS agenda and his recent pledge to politicize UH even further, harnessing UH as a partner in bringing about a racial supremacist government entity
(4) The first exchange of e-mails between the director of the Academy for Lifelong Learning and Dr. Conklin which then resulted in the newspaper article and editorial
(5) The Honolulu Advertiser article of Thursday September 5, 2002, the Advertiser editorial of September 6, 2002, and the articles published in the UH student newspaper “Ka Leo” September 30, 2002.
(6) Other examples of threats, intimidation, property damage and career damage caused by CHS activists and timid administrators
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(c) Copyright 2002 - 2004 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved