EXCLUSIVE: UH management ranks swelled by 14% during recession

EXCLUSIVE: UH management ranks swelled by 14% during recession
Published: Jul. 2, 2013 at 10:24 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 3, 2013 at 2:59 AM HST
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State Sen. Sam Slom
State Sen. Sam Slom
Sharon Rowe
Sharon Rowe
Peter Kay (on right)
Peter Kay (on right)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii increased its number of executive managers by 14 percent from 2006 to 2012, costing taxpayers millions more a year during the recession when many businesses experienced layoffs or job freezes and the university dealt with massive budget cuts.

"I think we are overloaded on administrative positions.  We've got too many cooks and not enough broth," said State Sen. Sam Slom (R-Hawaii Kai, Kahala). "It looks like Hawaii's number one growth industry.  More bureaucratic executives, more salaries.  It just keeps going on and on."

But in a statement, UH said the increases reflect the pre-recession period of 2006-2009, when the UH received additional funding from the legislature.  After that, as the recession worsened, lawmakers cut tens of millions of dollars from UH's budget.  And as of Tuesday, UH said it has five percent fewer executive and managerial personnel than it did last year.

In 2006, UH had 195 executive managers, everyone from the UH president to vice presidents, vice chancellors, deans, associate deans and even administrative and executive assistants, according to lists of positions and salaries released by UH.

The number of UH managers went up to 223 as of May 2012, an increase of 14 percent, according to those annual reports released by the university.

More managers have cost more money.  UH top officials' salaries went from $23.5 million a year in 2006 to $32.2 million last year. That's a 37-percent increase in salary costs for newly-created positions and higher pay for existing management personnel.

"UH has added huge amounts of overhead to the administration with nothing to show for it, other than a less-efficient system," said University of Hawaii Professional Assembly Chief Technology Officer Peter Kay.

He spoke during a meeting of top faculty union staff and board members as they discussed UH management growth at a strategic planning meeting Tuesday.

The video display on the screen above the meeting read, "Administrative overhead increases. This is a reflection of a dysfunctional UH system."

J.N. Musto, executive director of the union that represents nearly 4,000 faculty at 10 UH campuses across the state, said, "In a system where you've duplicated everything.  You've got a vice president for research (for the UH system), you've got a vice chancellor for research (at UH Manoa)."

UH faculty union vice president Sharon Rowe said classroom resources are suffering as UH spends more money growing its administrative positions.

"That means less for the students at the same time that students are having to pay more in loan costs, and having to pay more in tuition," said Rowe, a longtime philosophy professor at Kapiolani Community College.

While UH could not immediately provide examples of top management positions that were eliminated in recent years, several top posts have remained vacant for a year or more, UH said.  University executive searches can take several months and vacancies routinely can be lengthy, said people familiar with the hiring process.

An up-to-date breakdown of top UH administrative posts for 2013 was not immediately available Tuesday.  The most recent job titles and salaries were published by the university in May of 2012.

"The numbers have remained stable despite major selective growth and the hiring associated with the UH Cancer Center, UH Hilo's College of Pharmacy, and the university's expanding research portfolio," UH said in a statement.

As for vacant administrative or executive positions, the vice president for Administration and vice president for student affairs and university/community relations positions are currently vacant, UH said.  Various associate dean positions remain unfilled.  There will likely be a need to fill these positions in the future at which time the positions will be reviewed and filled as needed, the university said.

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