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In rare move, lawmakers voted to eliminate job of well-paid university professor

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 5:56 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a rare move, lawmakers have voted to eliminate the job of a well-paid university professor.

Prof. Carl-Wilhelm Vogel has worked at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center for more than two decades, earning more than $300,000 a year.

But his position was eliminated by a last-minute item in the state’s budget bill.

State Sen. Donna Kim, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, defended the move: “This individual does not even come into the office, has no office hours,” she said. “In addition to teaching zero classes, bringing in zero dollars, he doesn’t hold office hours.”

But the faculty union is asking the state Labor Board to restore Vogel’s position, saying the move violates his union contract, state law and the state Constitution.

“From our perspective, we can’t allow the Legislature to act as the employer and use their views in order to attempt to eliminate a position,” said Christian Fern, executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly.

“To think that someone at the Legislature can review your academic record and believe that you are not meeting expectations to me is concerning.”

The union has asked the Labor Board for an expedited hearing because Gov. David Ige only has until June 21 to make veto decisions.

But Kim said non-teaching, research posts like Vogel’s are one of the reasons tuition costs are so high.

“The unions are ... accusing me of having a vendetta, an agenda. They do that whenever you want to reign in costs,” she said.

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