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Editorials

Saturday, July 24, 2004



[ OUR OPINION ]


Dobelle and regents
don’t have to kiss, but
they should tell


THE ISSUE

A national publication has recounted the conflict surrounding the firing of the UH president.


EVAN Dobelle's long goodbye from the University of Hawaii will stretch through at least another week of mediation before a separation is final, but residue of the discord that flowed from his firing will likely stain both the institution and the man even longer.

A report of Dobelle's dismissal in The Chronicle of Higher Education, a weekly publication that is to academia what the Wall Street Journal is to the business fraternity, assures that those at colleges and universities across the United States have been apprised about the rumpus.

Although fair and even handed, the Chronicle article further obligates the Board of Regents and Dobelle to lay open the reasons and foundations for his dismissal as UH president. The public in Hawaii and elsewhere is owed the explanation. At stake is the reputation of the state's only publicly funded institution of higher education. So is Dobelle's, regardless of his statements in the publication, which fed even more fuel to the fire surrounding him.

Describing himself as "a president who was being very successful," Dobelle dismisses Hawaii as a place where "people aren't used to success." He went on to say that while he understood "what local people needed," he refused to acknowledge "local political culture," implying his firing was due, in part, to an insular community hostile to outsiders.

Dobelle's remarks tend to sustain what his critics call an unchecked ego. Indeed, he characterized his discharge hyperbolically as less a clash between regents and president than "a battle for the soul of Hawaii."

The article offered other glimpses of Dobelle's notion that boundaries of propriety and accountability do not apply to him. Declaring "I accomplished everything I set out to do," he seemed to have forgotten that his promises for raising money to pay for refurbishing his College Hill residence and for part of UH's medical center project have not been met; that he did not keep the board informed of his plans; and that his endorsement of a gubernatorial candidate, which he earlier said he regretted but now defends, was impolitic.

In the article, board vice chairwoman Kitty Lagareta said the settlement could result in the whole episode being kept under wraps. For the sake of the university, regents should not agree to secrecy.


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A second opinion
on sun, skin cancer


THE ISSUE

A noted dermatologist challenges the theory that sun exposure causes malignant melanoma.


TO AVOID skin cancer, stay out the sun or use sunscreen because "excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight is believed to be a primary contributor to malignant melanoma."

So says the American Academy of Dermatology. Similar cautions come from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the American Cancer Society and numerous research agencies and medical authorities like the notable Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. With such health heavyweights behind the advice, the link between sun exposure and the fatal skin disease has taken on the mantle of fact.

But it ain't necessarily so, says one dermatologist.

A. Bernard Ackerman, whom The New York Times describes as a renowned expert in the field and director of the Ackerman Academy of Dermatopathology in New York, asserts that the connection between melanoma and sunlight has not been proven. An examination of various studies shows he's right; the seam isn't tight even if evidence suggests a link.

Ackerman contends that common assumptions have evolved into truths when studies have yet to establish them. He points to the contradictions among various research projects, saying that taken as a whole, information gathered thus far falls short in the sun-cancer relationship. "The field is just replete with nonsense," Ackerman told the Times.

If sun exposure is the culprit, he argues, why then do Asians and African Americans get melanoma almost exclusively on their palms, soles, nails and mucus membranes, and why are Caucasians most commonly afflicted on legs and trunks when these skin surfaces are not usually exposed to the sun?

As expected, other noted authorities dispute Ackerman's position. Darrell S. Rigel, another New York dermatologist who was vacationing in Hawaii, contends that cancer occurs in covered skin because sunlight suppresses immune cells that hold off development of the disease.

Ackerman doesn't advocate long exposure to the sun because fair-skinned people are subject to squamous cell carcinoma, a less dangerous cancer, and because too much sun can cause premature aging of the skin.

Until conclusive studies are done, debate no doubt will continue, but both doctors put their money where their skins are. Rigel, even while summering in the islands, stayed covered up and pale. Ackerman, after a hatless trip to Israel, was tanned as toast.

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Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and military newspapers

David Black, Dan Case, Dennis Francis,
Larry Johnson, Duane Kurisu, Warren Luke,
Colbert Matsumoto, Jeffrey Watanabe,
directors

Dennis Francis, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor, 529-4791; fbridgewater@starbulletin.com
Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor, 529-4768; mrovner@starbulletin.com
Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor, 529-4762; lyoungoda@starbulletin.com

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4748; mpoole@starbulletin.com

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin (USPS 249460) is published daily by
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