McClain Named University of Hawaii President

The University of Hawaii has its new president -- its old one.

The Board of Regents voted unanimously to appoint interim president David McClain as the new school president.

It was during a special meeting at Honolulu Community College Tuesday afternoon.

"My wife Wendie and I are delighted the opportunity to lead the University forward through its centenial and throughout 2009," said McClain.

McClain had served as interim president for the last 20 months, taking over for Evan Dobelle.

A committee launched a nationwide search for a new president, but the committee and the Regents felt McClain was the "best and right" person for the job.

"It became clear to us in that case there is no best practice and it is frequently something where you have to go with something that is the best for your institution," said Kitty Lagareta, the board's chair.

Some criticized the Regents for suspending the search -- even those who liked McClain.

"If you truly believe that you are incapable of carrying out a successful national search for university president, then why on earth did you let the government nominate you and let the senate confirm you for regent in the first place," asked John Wendell.

A group of U.H. Professors filed a formal complaint against McClain, saying he violated policies set by the Regents.

It stems around his recent recommendation to create a University Affiliated Research Center.

Lagereta responded by saying the complaints were "opinions" on the policy, and there was nothing to preempt McClain's appointment.

McClain's contract runs from March 1, 2006 to July 31, 2009, with a base salary of $360,000 a year.

"We're very much looking forward to working with our students and our faculty, staff and community to increase, to raise the caliber of higher education in this state and to improve the quality of life in the state of Hawaii," said McClain. Earlier, he stated he did not want the permanent position, because he felt he couldn't commit to a full term of 7 years.