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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.

Following is an article by reporter Bob Rees, published in The Honolulu Weekly newspaper for October 15-21, 2003 following his own research on the controversy. 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. The article as published in The Honolulu Weekly can be seen in that newspaper's archives at:


Veritas at the UH

When it comes to a good name, truth can be relative at the University of Hawai‘i

Robert M. Rees

Evan Dobelle, now in his third year as president of the University of Hawai‘i, has brought with him a keen intellect, an infectious “can-do” attitude and a Renaissance Weltanschauung that are much needed in an institution that in the past has preferred recrimination, charges of racism and back-stabbing to progress. He’s also a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, since nobody’s perfect, Dobelle also brought with him a spinmeister’s view of truth. As the UH struggles to design a new logo, we can be sure one of its themes won’t be veritas — Latin for truth.

This is not an allusion to the human foibles you’d expect of a supersized ego, as when Dobelle told Hawaii Business magazine that he had built the medical school in “only a year.” This bizarre assertion ignored the Herculean three-year effort of Ed Cadman, the dean of the medical school and one of the UH’s great scholars. Nor is this a reference to Dobelle’s tendency to hire more public relations experts to work for the doctors of spin he already has on staff. And it’s not based on Dobelle’s tendency to rationalize an athletic program on the brink of outlawry even while he hypes a football coach who bears an uncanny resemblance to the self-absorbed protagonist of James Thurber’s satiric short story of 1935, “The Greatest Man in the World.”

No, this is a reference to something dead serious: Dobelle’s perhaps unwitting but careless smear of Ken Conklin to conceal the university’s failure to rally behind academic freedom.

Conklin — who vehemently opposes what he sees as race-based special programs for Hawaiians — was signed on as a pro bono teacher by a UH Outreach College program, the Academy for Lifelong Learning, to teach a noncredit course for elders, “Hawaiian Sovereignty: An Alternative View.”

The five-week course was scheduled to begin Sept. 18, 2002, but was canceled when the program’s administrator, according to a Campus Security Report, was harassed and intimidated by a solitary male who entered her office. The intruder called the administrator a “Hitler lover” and threatened “bad things” would happen to anyone taking the class. The administrator also received threatening phone calls.

Dean Richard Dubanoski informed Bachman Hall, including Dobelle, of the cancellation by e-mail: “The issue presented strikes at the heart of our university’s values. May I suggest that we meet to discuss how we want to address this matter.” Instead, rationalizing that the incident was unimportant because the course had been canceled, all Bachman Hall did was to ask the Faculty Senate Executive Committee for a “presentation on academic freedom for toward the end of the semester.”

To help justify its lack of enthusiasm for academic freedom when it comes to a politically incorrect course held in contempt by the university’s Center for Hawaiian Studies, the public relations gang at Bachman adopted the false but reassuring mantra that the course had been canceled due to lack of student interest.

This was true only if you count fear as lack of interest. In any case, on its own and apparently unbeknownst to Bachman Hall, the Academy for Lifelong Learning reinstated the course.

Dobelle, who reads 11 newspapers each day, somehow missed the ongoing reports about the course in the UH student newspaper. On Sept. 30, 2002, for example, Ka Leo noted, “Enrollment in the class, which dropped to zero immediately after the threats were made public, has since jumped to 14 students — twice its former size — after students’ interest was piqued by local media attention. …”

All of this was either missed or ignored by Bachman Hall. On Dec. 16, Dobelle’s director of external affairs, Paul Costello, chastised this writer with a flat-out misstatement of fact. “Apparently,” e-mailed Costello, “you’ve made up your mind about this lecture [sic] and no matter what is said to the contrary, your reality is reality. But it is far from facts. The fact is, no one signed up and the lecture [sic] faded away.”

Only last month, a full year after the terrorist threat, Dobelle repeated the mantra on HPR’s Talk of the Town that the university had done nothing because the course had been canceled due to lack of student interest.

Following that conversation of Sept. 9, Dobelle was sent a summary of the incident so he might understand the course had been canceled initially due to threats and had been reinstated and taught even without his help. At a subsequent conversation on Sept. 27, Dobelle said he hadn’t had time to read the summary because he had been out of town for 10 days dealing with football, alumni and fund-raising.

However, Dobelle then dropped a bombshell: “Do you know,” he asked, “that Conklin lied about his background and his Ph.D.? We called, and no one had ever heard of him. Just for that reason alone he shouldn’t have been teaching the course.”

Conklin’s credentials, of course, had been irrelevant to Bachman Hall’s decision not to come to the aid of a course canceled due to threats. Nevertheless, Bachman Hall has not replied to requests for sources of this information.

Our assumption was and is that Dobelle mistakenly but carelessly bought into a story fabricated by foes of Conklin even though proof of Conklin’s credentials was right under Dobelle’s thumb. In the Dean of Instruction’s Office at Windward Community College, where Conklin taught mathematics, there are transcripts that verify all three of Conklin’s University of Illinois degrees — a Phi Beta Kappa B.S. in mathematics, an M.S. in math and a Ph.D. in education. Also on file are letters confirming Conklin’s three years of teaching at Oakland University, two years at Emory and three years at Boston University at only one rank below full professor.

Even with all that evidence at hand, Dobelle as spinmeister — in the continuing attempt to justify a decision by Bachman Hall that belies UH’s pretensions toward becoming a great institution — all too willingly adopted and circulated what appears to be a deliberate smear.


You may now visit any of the following:

Expanded introduction explaining how all the pieces fit into the big picture at the University of Hawai'i

(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

(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; and followup publications.