Interim president allowed as a finalist in search for UH president

David Lassner
David Lassner
Lieutenant General Francis "Frank" Wiercinski
Lieutenant General Francis "Frank" Wiercinski

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Interim President David Lassner will be allowed to compete as a finalist to be the University of Hawaii's next leader after all.

The interim president is not supposed to apply for the position because of an unfair advantage.

But according to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents' Committee on Presidential Selection Final Report, Lassner was nominated...making him now eligible for the race.

Lassner will go head-to-head with retired commander of the Army in the Pacific, Lieutenant General Francis "Frank" Wiercinski for the position.

UH Professional Assembly Executive Director JN Musto wrote a letter of reference for Wiercinski.

But Musto says Lassner has done great work, making it difficult for anyone to go up against him.

For that very reason, a third candidate withdrew from the race because he said internal candidates were selected about three-quarters of the time.

So why is Lassner being considered?

The report states, "Dr. Lassner was nominated in a joint letter signed by thirteen deans and directors of schools and institutes at the Manoa campus, and by an individual from the business community."

"The committee agreed that considering David Lassner as a nominated candidate did not conflict with the original intent that the interim president would not be eligible to apply for the position," according to the report.

The report indicates Lassner made it clear that he would be willing to serve if nominated and selected.

Lassner has worked at the university since 1977.

He promises to try to lead by example and be collaborative.

Wiercinski, the retired Army commander, says that over time he would win the respect of those who doubt his ability to lead and succeed in an academic setting.

If appointed as president, he promises to listen, consult and learn from staff, faculty, students, and other stakeholders inside and outside the university.

Beginning on Tuesday, the two finalists will be participating in public forums at the UH campuses around the state.

Some students are asking to put off the meet-and-greet sessions because it coincides with finals.

But the Board of Regents hopes to select a president as early as next month.

Musto calls Wiercinski a risk.  But says taking risks can lead to great rewards.

He says he believes Wiercinski is worth taking that risk.

Whether the regents are willing to take that risk...that is yet to be determined.

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