HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -- The five members of the special State Senate committee investigating the University of Hawaii include three UH alumni and one UH parent.
State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, (D-Moanalua, Aiea, Kalihi Valley), chairs the Senate Special Committee on Accountability. Kim has held public office in Hawaii for 30 years, serving in the State House and the Honolulu City Council. She has held her seat in the State Senate since 2000.
"The public has been outraged. That there seems to be no transparency and accountability on the part of the Board of Regents and the University of Hawaii management and leadership," Kim said.
Kim attended the University of Hawaii but graduated from Washington State University.
Kim's vice chair for the special investigative committee will be Jill Tokuda (D-Kaneohe, Kailua, Enchanted Lake), because she chairs the Senate's Education Committee. Tokuda has been a member of the Senate since 2007.
"The last few months have eroded some of that public confidence and public trust. We need to restore that. That's definitely important. Our university system is such a vital part of our communities," Tokuda said.
State Sen. Les Ihara (D-Palolo, St. Louis Heights, Kaimuki) has been a state lawmaker since 1986, when he was elected to the State House. In 1994, Ihara won election to the State Senate.
He received a B.A. in liberal studies from UH Manoa.
"The legislature gave UH autonomy and along with that comes accountability," Ihara said. "We will look at how well the regents perform their accountability function. It shouldn't be our job to do this, but there are so many unanswered questions."
State Sen. Ron Kouchi (D- Kauai, Niihau), the only neighbor island senator on the panel, has been a senator since 2010. He previously served 22 years on the Kauai County Council.
"It is apparent that there are some fundamental flaws in the university's policies and procedures that allowed the entire matter to unfold the way it did," Kouchi said. "It is my hope that these hearings will allow the public to better understand what the university did to trouble shoot their policies and procedures in determining problem areas and what corrective measures the university implemented, or will implement, to safeguard against future occurrences."
The Senate's lone Republican, Sam Slom, (R-Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina, Kahala), is the minority leader and serves on all 14 of the Senate's committees. Slom is president of Smart Business Hawaii, a small business association of 1,000 firms. He has served in the State Senate since 1996.
Slom earned his undergraduate degree in economics and government from the University of Hawaii. His son currently attends UH Manoa.
"I assure you that it will be neither a witch hunt nor a white wash. It will be fair," Slom said. "It's going to be an objective and comprehensive hearing. I think the university should have been more forthcoming and sooner."