Senate UH hearing set as regents create oversight panel

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The State Senate Wednesday scheduled a special hearing to investigate the University of Hawaii's Stevie Wonder blunder while the UH Board of Regents approved a special committee to evaluate the school's financial and management practices.

The Senate's Special Committee on Accountability has set its hearing for Monday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. at the State Capitol.  Committee Chair State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim (D-Moanalua, Aiea, Halawa Valley) plans to call UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, UH Regents Chair Eric Martinson and other officials to testify.

During a meeting Wednesday at Windward Community College, the Board of Regents approved the formation of a special committee to evaluate the university's operational and financial controls and oversight practices, in reaction to the failed athletics fundraising concert and its aftermath.

The Operational and Financial Controls Improvement Advisory Task Group consists of five regents and four professionals in the field of business, audit and accounting.  The task group intends to have a report by the Oct. 18 regents' meeting.

The decision is a continuation of the board's August meeting during which the board spent five hours in closed-door executive session discussing findings of the University's internal investigation into the canceled concert benefit for the Athletics Department.

"The fiscal and management oversight and responsibility for the University of Hawaii rests with us," Regents Chairman Eric Martinson said. "The regents agree we need to examine our fiscal and operational policies and exercise our fiduciary responsibility to put in place effective measures."

Following an executive session Wednesday, Martinson sent Kim a letter detailing the formation of the board, and its charge.

The regents approved a motion to make the task group report public at the same time it is presented to the board, and to establish clear procedures on individual responsibility and accountability.

Lawmakers said the canceled concert and UH officials' handling of the aftermath created a lack of confidence in the school's leadership.

The UH faculty union also said the fiasco created a "loss of confidence and respect" for UH and its leaders. 

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