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UH regents approve Carbone as director of cancer center


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POSTED: Sunday, August 30, 2009

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents has unanimously approved Dr. Michele Carbone as director of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii despite strong opposition from the center's faculty members.

Twenty-four members of the faculty, including former director Dr. Carl-Wilhelm Vogel, signed a petition opposing Carbone's appointment, saying he is “;unqualified”; for the job. The 24 include researchers who attract 80 percent of the center's funding.

Their letter praised Carbone's research skills, but said he lacked executive experience and criticized his leadership style for “;not seeking and accepting input from faculty.”;

Carbone's appointment won praise largely from outside the center—from Chuck Sted, president and chief executive officer of Hawaii Pacific Health, which runs the Kapiolani Medical Centers, Straub Clinic & Hospital and Wilcox Health; and Arthur Ushijima, the president and chief executive officer of The Queen's Health Systems.

Both men cited Carbone's leadership and ability to bring the health provider community and the university together in support of cancer research and clinical care.

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David Ross, chairman of the UH-Manoa Faculty Senate, urged the Board of Regents to delay Carbone's appointment until “;the parties involved have a meaningful opportunity to work out their differences.”;

Ross criticized the Manoa administration for attempting to stifle public opposition to Carbone's appointment.

Carbone, who had been serving as interim director since December, will make an adjusted salary of $379,056 a year. Like other UH executives, Carbone is taking an 8 percent pay cut to help with the university's budget crisis.

The American Cancer Society, state Sen. Rosalyn Baker and the Hawaii Society of Clinical Oncology also supported Carbone's appointment.

As a researcher, Carbone is regarded as an expert on mesothelioma, a cancer associated with asbestos exposure.

At least three mainland candidates for the director's post were presented to the faculty. One reportedly pulled out during the process but the faculty in a vote overwhelmingly favored the remaining two over Carbone.

“;The search made us aware there are some excellent candidates out there,”; said a center employee.