To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, August 21, 1999

A hard man
for hard times

BEN Cayetano hasn't exactly declared war, but his opinion of the University of Hawaii mirrors CINCPAC's assessment of the Hawaii animal quarantine system: too expensive, inefficient, not up with the times.

Cayetano isn't known to mince words. Ask him about UH and the second-term governor won't equivocate. Why bother? He isn't running again. When his term expires, "I really want to try some private business," he says. He won't run for the U.S. Senate unless "both the candidates are such that I can't stand either one of them...

"The University of Hawaii is like many departments in government and many private's grown accustomed to a certain way of life," so it's resistant to change. What UH is going through now -- budget cuts, downsizing and consolidations -- already happened at mainland universities during the recessions of the '70s and '80s, he says.

The faculty workload at UH is very light, Cayetano insists, averaging three to six hours of instruction a week. He estimates that if each faculty member added just one hour a week to their workload they could teach another 3,000 classes. Cayetano sees this as a management problem, but doesn't profess to have the answer. "We gave the University of Hawaii autonomy and I try to respect that."

Another chief executive gripe: UH is ranked among the country's top universities in attracting research grant money. Still, clerical support and other project costs don't come out of grant funds. The state pays them. Cayetano says most other universities have figured this out and it's time for UH to make a change.

About the furor over the closing of the School of Public Health, he says, "Somebody told me the School of Public Health has only produced two Ph.D.s in the last two years." To the Gov, the medical school is more important and UH ought to combine them -- even if one dean loses his job.

Nobody ever called Ben a softy.

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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