HONOLULU (AP) - Since University of Hawaii-Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw announced she'd be leaving the post this summer, some lawmakers have wondered if she should be replaced.
For two sessions in a row, state Rep. K. Mark Takai has been lead author on resolutions asking the UH Board of Regents to analyze whether it would prudent to return leadership of the state university system's flagship campus to the UH president.
The biggest issue with having two separate offices is the cost, which comes in at close to $15 million a year, paid for by rising student tuition, Takai said.
Both times the resolutions have been deferred, but Takai, D-Newtown-Pearl City, notes this doesn't preclude the autonomous regents from studying the matter anyway. "Why not take a look at this? I think the timing is appropriate," Takai said.
The two offices were separated in 2001, a final act from departing UH President Kenneth Mortimer, the last system president to also act as Manoa chancellor. The separation was meant to free the system president to spread attention across the nine other campuses that felt overshadowed by Manoa.
UH spokeswoman Lynne Waters said the university did not testify on the resolution at Tuesday's House Higher Education Committee hearing because it's already presented its position in the past.
"There continues to be plenty of work for both the president of the UH system and the chancellor at UH-Manoa to accomplish," Waters stated. "The search for a new chancellor for UH-Manoa continues as scheduled."
Four finalists to replace Hinshaw will be in Honolulu in April to present their visions for the Manoa campus.
Takai, who supported the initial creation of the chancellor's office, remarked after the hearing that the office was established with the understanding that it could be paid for out of the existing university budget.
"It was supposed to be, if you look at the documentation, a zero sum game," he said. "They were supposed to create a Manoa campus team that would take from existing resources."
A decade later, the office's operating budget is $14.7 million a year, plus additional expenses, and there are numerous duplications between Manoa and system responsibilities, Takai said.
The only testimony on the resolution came from environmentalist Shannon Wood, who suggested that the matter be tabled while legislation on the UH regent selection process is still pending.