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UH cuts position of chief for international programs


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POSTED: Friday, November 27, 2009

Budget cutbacks and faculty opposition have apparently led to the dismissal of the administrator in charge of international education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Jenny Samaan, interim assistant vice chancellor for international and exchange programs, will lose her $103,248-a-year job in January.

The decision not to extend Samaan's employment came after three UH-Manoa Faculty Senate committees drafted a resolution that asked the administration to postpone the search for a permanent international affairs vice chancellor until the budget situation improves and the faculty and administration agree on a plan to manage the university's international efforts.

Another resolution rejected a draft international strategic plan for the university over concerns it did not look at costs of implementing the plan and because of a lack of consultation with the Faculty Senate.

David Ross, Faculty Senate chairman, said it is not necessary to have an administrator to coordinate the international efforts of the university.

“;We've done it for years without necessarily having somebody in an office there,”; Ross said.

Some faculty have criticized the university for adding administrators while cutting the budget.

Samaan has worked for the university for 18 years and had been in the UH system office before being transferred to UH-Manoa last year.

“;Given the financial straits (of the university), we haven't really had a conversation about whether we need somebody in that position,”; Ross said.

In an e-mailed statement, Samaan said that “;without this position, various international programs at UH Manoa operate in isolated fashion with little to no cohesion.”;

Samaan's supporters point to a recent state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism report that estimated international students bring $160 million a year to Hawaii's economy.

“;It seems to me that now, more than ever, UH Manoa needs to be enhancing its international capacity and engagement, not diminishing it,”; said Joseph Campos II, a member of the International Strategic Task Force at UH Manoa, in an e-mail to Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw.

Reed Dasenbrock, vice chancellor for academic affairs, said UH-Manoa is still committed to international education, but budget cuts and the lack of consensus on how the university should manage its international efforts might delay some initiatives.

“;My personal belief is that we do need a lead person for international affairs at an international campus like UH-Manoa,”; Dasenbrock said. “;But how do we best organize ourselves in order to best pursue international opportunities?”;

Dasenbrock added, “;We need to look very closely at any administrative position. ... There is not complete agreement that the current structure makes sense.”;

“;In the 21st century you have to look at globalization, and you have to have some kind of plan,”; said Jay Maddock, a co-chairman of the task force that came up with the draft UH-Manoa international strategic plan. “;Given the financial crisis, we have to look at what makes sense and where we can make an impact without incurring additional cost.”;