UH review of Navy plan raises concerns
A FACULTY SENATE committee report on a proposed Navy research center at the University of Hawaii-Manoa calls for a more in-depth legal review of the contract and a vote by the entire faculty on whether to approve the multimillion-dollar project.
The 22-page report and a nine-page legal review of the University Affiliated Research Center were released online yesterday, a week before a Faculty Senate meeting on whether to recommend the UARC to the administration.
The report raises some concerns and reviews arguments for and against the UARC, but does not make a recommendation about whether it should be approved or rejected.
In their legal review of the 85-page UARC contract, Terry Thomason and Jessica Horiuchi from the Hawaii firm of Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing raised questions about limitations of publishing research funded by the UARC and the ability of the university to reject UARC research. They recommended portions of the contract be re-written.
The review also raised concerns about the use of equipment purchased for UARC research, intellectual property rights, security classification of research staff, conflicts of interest and restrictions on faculty doing both UARC and non-UARC research and drug tests for researchers.
"I would certainly be reluctant to live with this contract without changing it," said Jim Tiles, a member of the UARC ad hoc committee and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.
UH-Vice Chancellor for Research Gary Ostrander said he would review the report with university lawyers before determining whether the university will pay for further outside legal work.
"It sounds like a lawyer to lawyer discussion," Ostrander said, noting that the university's lawyers have been working on the contract for several months.
Ostrander's office paid for Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing to review the contract for the Faculty Senate. He said he did not have a final bill, but the estimate for the legal services was under $10,000.
It's unknown how much further legal review would cost or how long that would take.
"The process is under way. Our office is trying really hard to respond when people have questions and will continue to do that," Ostrander said.
Ostrander said he could not comment further on the report because he was tied up in meetings yesterday and had not had a chance to read it.
The UARC could bring up to $50 million to the university over five years. Proponents argue that it is simply another way to bring research funds into the university.
Under the UARC proposal, the Navy would be able to propose research in areas where UH-Manoa excels. The current UARC proposal calls for a faculty committee to review any "task orders" to make sure it is appropriate to the university's mission.
Opponents argue that it would further militarize the university.
"The UARC is all about military research, weapons-related research," said Ikaika Hussey, one of the leaders of a week-long sit-in at University Interim President David McClain's office in protest of the UARC.
University Associate Vice President for External Affairs and University Relations Carolyn Tanaka said it's unlikely the Board of Regents would take up the UARC at its meeting next Thursday and Friday on Maui.
The next scheduled meeting is in January, but Tanaka said if necessary the board could meet in December.