Senators delay decision on UH regent
During a two-hour confirmation hearing yesterday, senators questioned Maui University of Hawaii regent James Haynes II on topics including university autonomy, native Hawaiian issues on Mauna Kea and a controversial Navy research center.
But Higher Education Chairman Clayton Hee put off until next week a decision on whether to confirm Haynes for a second term on the board, which sets policy for the 10-campus system.
Hee (D, Kaneohe-Kahuku) said he had expected Haynes, who has served as a regent since 2003, to be able to answer more detailed questions about the university and his votes as a regent.
Haynes, whose companies operate gas stations and convenience stores on Maui and the Big Island, told the committee that in an ideal world the university would get 13 percent of the state budget and be free to spend it as it sees fit. And he does not believe the Legislature -- or the governor -- should involve themselves in personnel decisions at the university.
Hee disagreed, saying the Legislature should have oversight of the spending of taxpayer money.
Haynes also said that as a part-Hawaiian, he has a sensitivity to native Hawaiian issues and believes native Hawaiians are underrepresented at the university, but he is not sure how to solve the problem. The university and native Hawaiians should discuss many issues, including the lease of Mauna Kea for observatories and the use of ceded lands.
Haynes said he is still struggling with the issue of a University Affiliated Research Center, which will come back before the board if a contract is reached with the Navy.
Gov. Linda Lingle and Chief of Staff Bob Awana sat through part of the hearing to support Haynes, although Lingle did not offer testimony.
The regents recessed a scheduled monthly meeting yesterday to attend the hearing and offer support.
The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs were among those submitting testimony in support of Haynes' nomination. UH social work professor Joel Fischer testified against Haynes, citing his votes to increase tuition and the regents' decision to offer a contract to UH President David McClain without a national search.
Entomologist is nominated as regent
Gov. Linda Lingle has nominated Marlene Hapai, a former biology professor and director of the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center, to be the East Hawaii representative to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents.
Hapai, an entomologist, is credited with the idea for a science education center on the Big Island in 1993. The Mauna Kea Astronomy Center opened in August, and Hapai left the director's job after seeing her vision come to fruition.
Since then she has been project director of the STARnet grant program.
Hapai has also served as associate dean at the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at UH-Manoa and as chairwoman of the Natural Sciences Division and program at UH-Hilo. She was assistant director of the Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children at UH-Hilo, a professor and associate professor at UH-Hilo and UH-Manoa, and a high school science teacher.
If confirmed, she will replace Hilo investment adviser John Kai, whose nomination was rejected by the state Senate last year. Her term would expire next year.
Lingle still must name someone as the West Hawaii regent, a position that will become vacant in June when Waikoloa Land Co. executive Myron Yamasato's term expires.