McClain will not be UH's next president
The interim leader wants to return to teaching and research
DAVID McCLAIN, the interim president of the University of Hawaii, has bowed out of the running for a long-term appointment to lead the school because he wants to resume teaching and researching.
"The next president of the university needs to be someone who can serve for seven years -- a long-term president," McClain said yesterday at a news conference. "My wife and I have talked about our plans, and I don't think we are available to serve that whole time."
McClain, 59, said he also wants to spend more time with his wife, work on his golf game and maybe write a book.
The university's Board of Regents recently launched a search for a new president. McClain was believed to be among the favorites for the post.
The board has showered praise on McClain since he replaced Evan Dobelle 15 months ago, awarding him its highest ratings in a professional review in July.
The board's chairwoman, Kitty Lagareta, said after the evaluation that McClain "demonstrated tremendous leadership, integrity, and the ability to move the University of Hawaii forward over the past year despite many challenges."
McClain was vice president of academic affairs when the Board of Regents appointed him to replace Dobelle. He joined the university 15 years ago as a business professor and has also been dean of the business school.
McClain said student and faculty protests against setting up a proposed Navy research center at the university had nothing to do with his decision.
"This is an academic institution. We always have controversy. That's what we do. It goes with the territory," McClain said. "As a scholar, I relish that controversy. I think these are important questions for us to discuss. It had no effect on my decision."
Opponents of the research center say it could disrupt existing programs, set up publication restrictions on research and allow for weapons development on campus. Others complained the center would further militarize Oahu, which is already home to several military bases.
Backers say the center would bring $50 million in Department of Defense grants to the university in its first five years of operation.
McClain said he expected to make a decision on whether to go forward with the center before his interim term expires Aug. 15.
McClain added several years ago he and his wife agreed he would serve administrative posts until he was about 60.
And though he would be willing to stretch that limit by a few years, being the president of the $1.1 billion, 80,000-student university system for seven years would have been too long.
He added that Dobelle's contract had been for seven years, extendable to 10, while his predecessors had served between seven and 10 years.