Saturday, January 8, 2000

Choice of educator to
head Kamehameha

Bullet The issue: Hamilton McCubbin, Kamehameha Schools' new chief executive officer, is an educator, not a business administrator.

Bullet Our view: McCubbin will have to rely heavily on his staff in making business decisions.

THE selection of Hamilton McCubbin as the first chief executive officer of Kamehameha Schools was something of a surprise. McCubbin is an educator -- a distinguished one.

The author of more than 100 articles and books on subjects ranging from early childhood to vocational education, he has spent most of his career at the universities of Wisconsin and Minnesota. From 1985 until last July he was dean of Wisconsin's School of Human Ecology, formerly known as the School of Family Resources and Consumer Sciences. He is a 1959 graduate of Kamehameha.

But the entity now known as Kamehameha Schools, formerly Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, is more than an educational institution. It is Hawaii's largest private landowner, a trust with assets estimated at upwards of $6 billion. Those assets are dedicated, in accordance with the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, to the education of Hawaiian children.

The management of those assets requires special training and experience. It was our assumption that the interim trustees would select a person with a strong record in business administration as chief executive officer of this organization, but they decided otherwise.

The appointment of McCubbin, an educator and not a business administrator, seems to signify an intention to emphasize the estate's mission of education over the business operations that generate the revenue to finance that mission.

McCubbin will oversee the operations of the schools as administered by President Michael Chun and his staff. He will also try to broaden Kamehameha Schools' outreach programs to benefit Hawaiian children in the public schools, programs that the former trustees abandoned.

He will also have the responsibility of overseeing Kamehameha Schools' business operations, but he will have to rely heavily on the judgment of senior staff members with expertise in these matters. Foremost among them will be Nathan Aipa, the estate's former chief counsel, appointed chief operating officer, who had been serving on an interim basis, and a new chief financial officer.

The appointment of a CEO represents a major change for the estate, which has been managed by the trustees, who once characterized themselves as "five chief executive officers." Henceforth the trustees will be confined to a policy-making role and presumably will no longer receive the huge commissions that were so heavily criticized.

The appointment of McCubbin coincided with the issuance of Circuit Judge Kevin Chang's order outlining the procedure for filling vacancies on the Kamehameha Schools board of trustees. The appointments are to be made by a state probate judge from recommendations made by a seven-member committee of private citizens.

Previously appointments to the board were made by the justices of the Hawaii Supreme Court, as directed by the princess' will, but four of the five justices, after undergoing strong criticism by the authors of the "Broken Trust" article in the Star-Bulletin, announced two years ago they would no longer perform that function.

This system seems preferable to that proposed by the state, which would have had the judges of the Intermediate Court of Appeals make the appointments. In view of the charges that the Supreme Court justices were influenced by political considerations, it's desirable that the process be separated from the judiciary as much as possible.

This is truly a new era. The Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate has weathered the most serious crisis in its history. The institution has a new name, an interim board of trustees, a new procedure for selecting permanent trustees and its first chief executive officer.

It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the Kamehameha Schools. Everyone concerned with the future of the Hawaiian people wishes it well.

Bishop Estate Archive

Gays in the military

Bullet The issue: Al Gore said he would make support for homosexual rights in the military a "litmus test" for appointment to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Bullet Our view: Members of the armed forces are expected to carry out orders whether they agree with them or not.

If Al Gore is elected president, he will face a military already antagonized by a foolish statement he made about gays in the military. In a debate with Bill Bradley in New Hampshire Wednesday, Gore said he would make agreement with his views on homosexuals in the armed forces a "litmus test" for any appointment he made to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Bradley, who also supports gay and lesbian rights, made the more sensible statement that he would expect his appointees to the Joint Chiefs to carry out his policy. In the military, one is expected to follow orders, including those one doesn't agree with.

That goes for the top brass as well as the lowliest private. When Douglas MacArthur refused to follow orders, Harry Truman fired him.

Retired Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, former Air Force chief of staff, commented, "I regard that (Gore's statement) as a ridiculous assertion, that that should be a qualification for office. I suppose winning the nation's wars should be the primary qualification."

Gore's statement raises doubts about his qualifications to be president.

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