To Our Readers


Sunday, August 5, 2001

No more business-as-usual
at the University of Hawaii

HIS Uncle Milty grin, aloha shirt and kukui-nut lei contrast sharply with his dour predecessor's suits and white shirts. Evan Dobelle is a different animal from Kenneth Mortimer and he wants us all to know it.

Dobelle is likely to reshape the University of Hawaii and the state itself in exciting and positive ways -- if the rest of us can keep up.

Where Mortimer was fundamentally a scholar working as an administrator, Dobelle began his career in politics, the "art of the possible." While Mortimer fought an eight-year holding action to protect the UH from budget cuts and to achieve a degree of legal autonomy, Dobelle wants us to look beyond the barriers to what's possible if we work together.

Build new dormitories to boost the student body. Build a Pac-10 caliber stadium and aim for athletic excellence. Launch a four-year degree program on Maui where the population is growing. Shelve the governor's Kakaako medical school proposal and come up with a better idea, a better site.

He espouses changing the culture to one of "consultation and collegiality rather than command and control." He wants to make the university "run from the bottom up instead of from the top down."

Create a new liberal arts college within a college, he says. Revamp the campus environment to make it a place where students want to be even after class; add residence halls, coffee shops, art galleries; bring in speakers to challenge, instruct and entertain. Put UH on the map.

Dobelle has already upset the apple cart, telling the Board of Regents "we need policies that make sense." Radical idea.

He asks why wait five years after someone dies before naming a stadium, a college or a road after them? Why not celebrate our heroes -- especially those with the wherewithal to fund new infrastructure?

An admirer calls Dobelle "Donald Trump with a social conscience." You can call him catalyst, mover, shaker. Some will call him loose cannon, but Evan Dobelle didn't come to Hawaii to work quietly behind the scenes.

Dobelle relishes a challenge and bit off a big one. Go for it.

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 529-4748, fax to 529-4750, send
e-mail to or write to
500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.

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