UH faculty seeks
talks with chancellor
Views vary on how well Peter Englert
has been doing since he arrived a year ago
University of Hawaii-Manoa Chancellor Peter Englert, in less than a year on the job, has aroused strong feelings among faculty members.
Some say he is an effective administrator who offers big hopes for needed change. Others say he makes decisions without adequate knowledge or consultation.
A letter was sent to Englert May 23 and signed by 11 College of Social Sciences chairmen and directors asking for a meeting "to discuss the principles guiding your decision-making and our concerns ... about the consequences of these decisions."
Englert said he is trying to schedule a meeting with the group next month.
A strongly worded anonymous memorandum also is circulating the campus for faculty signatures expressing "no confidence" in the chancellor.
"We don't agree with the tone of that memo," said Eldon Wegner, sociology chairman, who was among those signing the letter from the Social Sciences College. "We're trying to approach this a little bit differently. ... We're hoping to have a good relationship."
Englert was appointed last May to the Manoa institution's $254,000 executive position and took office in August.
He has not officially received the two-page memorandum, but said: "I know change causes anxiety, and this year has been full of change at Manoa. We are aware that a statement is circulating, but it's uncertain who originated it and impossible to tell who, if anyone, has signed onto it."
Both the letter and memo cite examples of actions taken by Englert without communicating with those directly affected.
Oceanography professor Roger Lukas said he believes it is appropriate for the Manoa faculty to provide input into Englert's evaluation on his first anniversary in Hawaii and that the discussion is healthy.
"Some faculty apparently did not want to take the chance that they wouldn't be asked, and a vigorous discussion of his performance has ensued among the faculty as a result of the memo that is circulating," he said.
A UH faculty member for 30 years, Lukas said many people within and outside the university believe it "needs to be renovated, and some believe that it needs to be completely redesigned."
Either one would require substantial resources, and after 10 years of budget cuts, he said, "there are no easy targets left for freeing up internal resources to meet the cuts."
Lukas said he agrees with those who believe the chancellor has not taken the time needed to sufficiently understand intricately related programs and facilities.
"If you combine ambitious plans with these continuing cuts to existing programs, you have a very volatile mix, and this requires highly effective leadership using methods and employing a style which are consistent with the culture of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii," he said.
But Michael Forman, associate professor of linguistics and outgoing UH-Manoa Faculty Senate chairman, said the root problems on campus are "money, morale and fear."
He said Englert is "very knowledgeable about management" and "the best real hope for substantive change that we've had for a long time. ... He's got ideas, he's willing to make changes and some people are very threatened."
Forman said faculty members have a great opportunity under UH President Evan Dobelle and Englert to participate in Manoa's governance, but they are not taking advantage of it. He said he hears a lot of consultation by Englert "when people don't listen."
Lukas said, however, "My experience and that of some colleagues is difficulty being heard."
Michael Hadfield, Kewalo Marine Laboratory director, said he has worked with Englert a lot on faculty issues and has "very positive" impressions of the chancellor. He said Englert consulted heavily with the Pacific Biomedical Research Center faculty over various concerns and "has a lot of ideas still developing on how best to promote biomedical and biotechnology research."
University of Hawaii