Panel in place to fill lead position at UH-MC

The search to replace longtime University of Hawaii Maui College Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto has begun as a 17-member, all-Maui Chancellor Search Advisory Committee has been formed.

The panel, consisting of UH-Maui College administrators, faculty, professional and support staff, two students and two community members, will be responsible for screening the candidates and selecting finalists, said John Morton, vice president for community colleges for the UH system.

Some notable names on the committee include Grant Chun, vice president of A&B Properties and a state Board of Education member; Teena Rasmussen, Maui County’s Office of Economic Development director; and David Tamanaha, UH-Maui College’s vice chancellor of administrative affairs.

The committee’s review process will likely occur over the summer, with finalists to visit the campus and sit down for interviews by early September, Morton said. The goal is to try to fill the position by Oct. 31, Sakamoto’s target retirement date. Officials are currently working on the job description for the position that will be advertised nationally.

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents appoints the chancellor based on the recommendation of the vice president for community colleges and UH’s president. David Lassner is serving as UH’s interim president.

“You never know how these things are going to go, but that is our timetable,” Morton said last week.

Sakamoto, who has been at the college in various positions for 41 years, announced in February that he would retire Oct. 31, ending years of speculation on when the 70-year-old would step down. Faculty and supporters attribute much of the college’s success to Sakamoto’s leadership. Under his watch, many multimillion-dollar facilities have been built on the campus; distance learning for students on Lanai and Molokai and in Hana and Lahaina has been added; and the school now has authorization to grant baccalaureate degrees.

The other members of the Chancellor Search Advisory Committee and their affiliations with the college are: Debasis Bhattacharya, interim vice chancellor of the Applied Business and Information Technology Program; Elaine Yamashita, professor and the Early Childhood Education Program coordinator; Eric Engh, an English professor; Debra Nakama, a professor and articulation coordinator; Bryan Hieda, an information and technology specialist; Michele Katsutani, a professor and part of the Student Affairs counseling program; Marc Antosch, academic support for the Office of Continuing Education and Training; Flora Mora, institutional support for the business office; Marilyn Umetsu, academic affairs for the library; Kealani Cook, a history instructor; Karen Hanada, University of Hawaii Center, Maui director; and Donna Haykto-Paoa, professor and coordinator of the Molokai Education Center. The student members are Natalie Kama and Alickzander Pasalo.

Sakamoto earns $163,992 per year. His salary is the second highest of all UH community college chancellors; the chancellor of Kapiolani Community College earns $164,136.

“Clyde’s number is on the high end, but he was there a long time,” Morton said.

Morton said that the salary range for the new UH-MC chancellor will be about the same, but it will depend on who is selected, the selectee’s background, along with other factors.

He noted that working on Maui could be a positive draw for UH-MC’s position.

Morton said he didn’t know how many people would apply for the job, but nationally there are a lot of community college chancellor jobs currently opening up.

“They are now getting to retirement age. There is a natural succession, plus the job can be tough sometimes politically,” Morton added.

Morton said that the current departure of longtime community college leaders across the country is related to the community college boom in the late 1960s and ’70s. During that time, there seemed to be “a new community college every week” across the nation, he said.

In those years, a lot of people were looking to go to college on the GI Bill. Also, people were making strides in civil rights in which women and minorities wanted equal educational opportunities, so community colleges sprung up.

Some community colleges back then relied on local taxes. But Morton said that, at that time, Hawaii was different as the community colleges were made part of the state’s responsibility.

Since then, Morton said, most community colleges elsewhere have moved on to using state and student tuition as primary funding sources.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at