Thursday, June 21, 2001

University of Hawaii

Nainoa Thompson
to resign from UH
Board of Regents

He cites his duties at
Kamehameha Schools
and family reasons

Who's left

By Treena Shapiro

The University of Hawaii announced today that Nainoa Thompson will resign from the Board of Regents.

His resignation, effective June 30, coincides with the end of terms for three other regents -- Chairwoman Lily Yao, Donald Kim and student regent Sat Khalsa -- as well as UH President Kenneth Mortimer.

Thompson cited new responsibilities as a trustee of the Kamehameha Schools, his involvement with the Polynesian Voyaging Society and personal family issues as his reasons for stepping down in his resignation letter to the governor.

Gov. Ben Cayetano this morning appointed Patricia Y. Lee, a trusts and estates attorney with Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel to fill the vacancy left by Yao. Lee was previously an assistant professor of French at UH.

To replace Thompson, Cayetano appointed Kathleen K.S.L. Thurston, president of the construction firm Thurston-Pacific, Inc. since 1997. Thurston will resign from the Hawaiian Homes Commission where she had two years remaining on her term, Cayetano said.

Thompson was appointed to the board in 1998 to fill Donna Tanoue's unexpired term and was reappointed the following year to a four-year term that would have expired in 2003.

During his term, Thompson, a renowned native Hawaiian navigator, displayed sensitivity to issues affecting Hawaiians. In March 2000 he led the regents' vote against the administration's recommendation for a tuition increase after a group of students and community members staged an all-night protest. He was not present at the meeting where the tuition increase was approved this March.

Thompson also was the only regent to abstain from voting when the Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan was approved in June 2000. The plan allowed three observatory sites to be built on Mauna Kea's summit.

Thompson, while in support of the project's concept, was concerned that issues such as stewardship and payment for use of ceded lands were not addressed. A portion of the rent from ceded lands is intended to benefit native Hawaiians.

According to a UH press release, Thompson told the board that his tenure had been a time of growth and learning. He said he would continue his commitment to improving the quality of higher education.

"Working with the faculty and students has brought into sharp focus the true value of higher education and the immense potential and obligation the university has to make a contribution to the future of Hawaii's special people and nurturing this special place," Thompson said, according to the release. Duane Kurisu, a local businessman and owner and chairman of Pacificbasin Communications, has already been appointed to replace Donald Kim. UH political science major Capsun Poe will take over the student regent position from Sat Khalsa, who graduated from law school last semester.

Cayetano said adding a student regent to the board has not worked out as well as some had hoped. Unlike the other regents, who are appointed to four-year terms, a two-year term and a limited tenure as a student do not "really give the student regent the opportunity to learn and develop, and I frankly think it's something we can do without," he said.

His other board appointees are members of the community who can take a long-term view for the university, he said, which is why many are business professionals.

"They have experience in making decisions by stepping back and looking at the bigger picture when we're talking about streamlining the university," he said.

Cayetano said the fact that most of his appointees are not academics "doesn't mean that they don't have any empathy for the students or the community or the academically disadvantaged."

In fact, Cayetano said, one of the requirements to serve on the board is a demonstrated interest in these concerns.

The board is also balanced by others outside the business community, Cayetano added, such as retired union social worker Ah Quon McElrath, retired UH psychology professor Walter Nunokawa and Big Island veterinarian Billy Bergin.


Remaining regents

>> Billy Bergin, veterinarian, Kamuela; term ends 2002

>> Everett Dowling, president of Dowling Company, Inc., a Maui-based real estate development firm; term ends 2002

>> Allan Ikawa, president of Big Island Candies, Hilo; term ends 2003

>> Charles Kawakami, president of Big Save, Inc., on Kauai; term ends 2004

>> Bert Kobayashi, chairman of Kobayashi Development Group LLC; term ends 2003

>> Ah Quon McElrath, retired union social worker; term ends 2003

>> Walter Nunokawa, retired professor of psychology; term ends 2004

>> Sharon Weiner, president and chief executive officer of Stryker Weiner Associates, Inc.; term ends 2003

University of Hawaii

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