Chancellor seeking staff input
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The new leader of the University of Hawaii's flagship Manoa campus is making sure she talks to as many people as possible before proposing new initiatives.
New Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw's style contrasts with one of her predecessors -- Peter Englert -- who drew criticism from some for not working with faculty members in making changes.
Hinshaw said she believes in "pilot programs" because "you can always go back."
But she's not ready to say yet what changes she will make on campus.
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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
University of Hawaii at Manoa's Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw tools up a ramp at the Shidler College of Business on her way to a presentation.
It's not difficult to spot the new chief executive officer of the University of Hawaii's flagship Manoa campus. Virginia Hinshaw is the one gliding around campus on a Segway, wearing a helmet.
And if you're still not sure who she is -- read her name tag.
Job: Chancellor, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Born: Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Personal: Married 44 years to Bill, her high school sweetheart, with two adult sons.
Experience: Provost -- the chief academic and financial officer -- at the University of California at Davis; dean of the graduate school and vice chancellor for research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Hinshaw is a microbiologist who specialized in viruses, primarily influenza.
"I do a lot of out and about," she said. So she always wears a name tag to make it easier for people to approach her.
The Segway, too, is an opportunity for an "educational moment," Hinshaw said. It also "looks cool" and helps her meet people.
Wearing a helmet, she said, "sets a good example."
Meeting people and hearing what they think about the university and what it should be have been Hinshaw's main focus since she started July 1.
She has set three main goals for UH-Manoa: to have it become a "destination of choice" for students, faculty and staff; to be a "global leading research university;" and to be a "respectful and inclusive part of the community."
Hinshaw said she's still talking to people about the university and what she wants to accomplish and isn't ready to talk about specific initiatives.
She does want to increase the number of local students who go to Manoa instead of the mainland and is looking at ways to do that.
The other priority is to spend money on repairs and maintenance, especially in the dorms.
"There do need to be changes to accomplish the goals we have," Hinshaw said.
Hinshaw had to deal with an assault in the dorms just before classes began and reacted by stepping up security and increasing educational efforts about campus crime.
During the budget process, she also moved $2.5 million in funding for native Hawaiian programs and $1.2 million for Hamilton Library higher on the campus priority list, she said.
Hinshaw came to UH-Manoa from the University of California at Davis, where she was the provost, or the chief academic and financial officer, and oversaw the medical school and teaching hospital.
"Big, large public research universities have similar problems," she said. "How you solve them varies dramatically depending on where you are."
Hinshaw is the third chancellor at UH-Manoa since former UH President Evan Dobelle separated the jobs of president of the 10-campus UH system and the leader of the main UH-Manoa campus five years ago.
Her predecessor, interim chancellor Denise Konan, served for two years. Konan took over from Peter Englert, a Dobelle hire whose contract was not renewed. Englert's decision-making style was criticized by some faculty who said he didn't adequately consult with them before proposing changes.
Hinshaw started July 1 under a five-year contract starting at $350,000 a year, plus a $2,000-a-month housing allowance.
"I was intrigued by the culture and the different groups of cultures on campus and having a host culture as well," she said.
On her right wrist is a gold Hawaiian bracelet, a gift from former colleagues at UC-Davis. On her left wrist, Hinshaw wears a friendship bracelet, a gift from Marshall McKay, the tribal chairman of the Rumsey Tribe of the Wintun Indians in California.
Hinshaw said the UC-Davis campus was built on what was once a native American village and that she is sensitive to that. She said she is part Cherokee. On the wall of her office in Hawaii Hall is a peace pipe, another gift.
Part of Hinshaw's role at UH-Manoa is that of a cheerleader -- boosting what she sees as a lack of bragging about how good the university is.
"When I went to UC-Davis, I told them they were suffering from Midwestern humility. But I didn't," she said.
New chancellor on UH
In an interview this month with the Star-Bulletin editorial board, Hinshaw shared her thoughts on several topics, but emphasized that she intends to spend more time talking to people at the university before actually proposing any new initiatives. Her comments:
The John A. Burns School of Medicine: "It costs money to run these institutions," Hinshaw said, adding she cannot say when or if the facility will be self-supporting. "I wish the people before me had raised the $150 million." The school should remain a part of UH-Manoa, and will not be spun off as a separate entity, she said.
Banning alcohol in athletic facilities on campus: "I know that it becomes part of the culture, but I've seen a lot of places that have had a great experience without it. But you learn what works here is not necessarily what works somewhere else."
Legislative hearings on the athletic department: "I respect that people feel passionate about things and hopefully we can give them the information so it's a good exchange."
The "Rainbow" name for athletic teams: "Rainbows are so perfect for Manoa," Hinshaw said. "I think it's a beautiful symbol."