Wednesday, January 20, 1999

University looks
to fill three
prestigious posts

By Helen Altonn


Offers and counteroffers have been going back and forth between the University of Hawaii and a Yale University professor being wooed to head the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

UH Senior Vice President Dean Smith said he's hoping to reach agreement with Dr. Edwin Cadman to present to the Board of Regents for approval tomorrow. "Otherwise, it will be a whole nother month before the next board meeting."

However, he said "a lot more is involved" than settling on a salary to entice the professor of medicine and vice president for medical affairs and chief of staff at Yale New Haven Hospital.

"In this particular case, we have to tie it in with the hospitals, with the governor's economic development package and with the Legislature," Smith said.

He said the university retained a private consulting group to put a package together to attract Cadman, with contributions from hospitals. He declined to discuss details, saying they weren't finalized.

Sherrel Hammar has been interim dean since Christian Gulbrandsen retired in December 1996.

Lengthy searches also have been under way for candidates for the top jobs at the Institute for Astronomy and Cancer Research Center, two of the most prestigious UH facilities.

It isn't just a question of salary, said Patricia Cooper, member of all three search committees. She was formerly special assistant to the vice president for research and is now acting associate dean for the School of Ocean, Earth Sciences and Technology.

When someone is hired for such top positions, she said, "They've got their own agenda. . . . It has to be supported from the bottom up and top down. It's a little bit more complex than hiring a football coach," she added, referring to the hiring of football coach June Jones in 10 days.

Frank Shu, University of California-Berkeley astronomy professor and National Academy of Science member, had strong interest in directing the astronomy institute. But the University of Hawaii was unable to find an appropriate position for his wife, Helen, who is "very successful in biotechnology commercialization," Smith said.

Another candidate with "equally impressive" credentials is expected next month for a second or third interview, he said.

Robert McLaren has headed the astronomy institute on an interim basis since Don Hall's departure in July 1997. He is also handling his regular job overseeing the Mauna Kea observatory complex and the responsibilities of Len Cowie, associate institute director, who is on sabbatical leave.

At the Cancer Research Center, Director Brian Issell said he's been trying for 2-1/2 years to step down to do more patient care, research and teaching.

"I've been here 10 years. We feel it's important to get someone on board who can take us to a new level," he said. "It's been a bit slow to get this finalized."

The leading candidate is chairman of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Hamburg, Germany. He was formerly at the Georgetown University Cancer Center in Washington, D.C.

Issell said he's hoping a deal can be reached before the institute's National Cancer Research Institute grant of about $1 million comes up for renewal. An application must be submitted in October.

Smith said an offer was extended to the candidate in Germany, but so far agreement can't be reached on the salary.

"We've got to get good people, but we can't give away the store," he said.

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