After two critical audits, UH Manoa fires its head of facilities

After two critical audits, UH Manoa fires its head of facilities

MANOA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – After the department he ran received two critical audits in less than a year, the man in charge of maintaining the University of Hawaii campus was fired in July, sources said.

David T. Hafner Jr., had been Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities and Grounds for the last six and a half years, overseeing more than 300 employees.

His last day in his $154,000-a-year job was July 13, a UH Manoa spokeswoman said.

"Today, campus buildings and the landscape areas are generally shabby.  There is a sense of neglect across the campus," said Virginia-based educational facilities consultant APPA, in a report filed for UH in October of 2011.  The APPA's study of UH facilities and its 88-page report cost $43,400.

While the report noted there was a "history of substantial neglect" of UH campus facilities stretching back years, it said "there continues to be an absence of contemporary maintenance practices and standards."

Examples of neglect remain on the UH Manoa campus today, from overgrown grass along East-West Road to the inoperable front doors of the plant science building that have been broken for more than a year.

The consultant found there was a backlog of maintenance work requests on the campus and response time for minor maintenance was "unacceptably high."

"Any time we need any sort of small repairs, the janitorial staff is really on top of it.  They get people out to fix whatever needs to get fixed," said Assistant Math Professor Michelle Manes, who works in Keller Hall which houses math and science classrooms.

"We had broken toilets in two out of two of the women's bathrooms for an entire semester.  So things like that, bigger issues, take a much longer time to get fixed and get settled," Manes added.

A second investigation, a UH internal audit this spring, found work orders for repairs were still not being carried out on a timely basis.  UH Office of Internal Audit Director Glenn Shizumura presented a draft of his audit to a UH Regents audit committee meeting May 25.

Hawaii News Now requested a copy of the audit earlier this summer, but UH officials said since the audit was still in draft form, it was not releasable to the public.

According to minutes of the regents' audit committee meeting, the draft audit also found that annual work performance evaluations were not being carried out for civil service employees in the facilities and grounds division and there was a lack of objective monitoring of employees' work productivity.

The audit discovered inventory controls at facilities and grounds workshops needed to be strengthened and that the division lacked documentation to support the value of equipment and supplies, which could not be validated.

Zach Bergman, a UH freshman from South Dakota said, "That's something that they should keep up on and should really watch.  I mean, as far as that stuff goes, it should be monitored.  And if it wasn't then the right choice was made, I suppose."

UH Vice Chancellor for Administration, Finance and Operation Kathy Cutshaw has assumed Hafner's duties temporarily, a UH Manoa spokeswoman said.

The UH Office of Facilities and Grounds is completing a strategic planning process.  After that is complete, a search will begin for a new vice chancellor for facilities and grounds, with the position filled no later than June 2013, a UH Manoa spokeswoman said.

Hafner did not return a phone message left at his home Wednesday morning.

In 2008, Hafner won an award from previous UH President David McClain for taking "a prominent role in Manoa's efforts to become a more sustainable, environmentally responsible campus." McClain also singled Hafner out for identifying "more precisely the repair and maintenance backlog," according to a December 2008 UH news release.

Before joining UH, Hafner was vice president and general manager for Hawaiian Wireless, Inc.

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