Keep David McClain as UH president
The University of Hawaii Board of Regents soon might negotiate a permanent contract with interim President David McClain.
DAVID McClain took the helm at the University of Hawaii on a temporary basis and said he would not be willing to serve as president for the seven years he regarded as appropriate. Nearly two years later, he has proved to be fully adept in the position and should be retained as president
under a term more to his liking.
The UH Board of Regents could find no greater contrast than McClain to Evan Dobelle, who was fired in June 2004. The regents' nationwide search had settled on Dobelle, president of Trinity College in Massachusetts and a charismatic figure who was an active Democrat boasting of his links to famous politicians. Dobelle's UH presidency ended in shreds less than three years into his seven-year, $442,000-a-year contract.
Low-key in demeanor, McClain raised the stature of the UH College of Business as its dean, earning the respect of the state's business community, before becoming vice president of academic affairs. He became immersed in the university's financial planning.
As interim president, McClain, 59, has earned the trust of the regents and Governor Lingle, proving his ability to cope with a crisis during the October 2004 Manoa flood. Regents say the economist-administrator has shown his ability to make difficult decisions.
State Sen. Clayton Hee suggests that the regents back away from naming McClain to the job without first conducting a national search. "We'll never know and we will always wonder" if a better candidate might have been found, he says. However, such a process might be a waste of time and money.
The board appointed a search committee in December, but two national experts on presidential searches and two companies that specialize on such tasks asked why McClain should not stay on the job. One firm said the chances of finding someone equal to McClain were less than 50 percent.
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