UH Board of Regents considers at-will appointment for next president, no multi-year contract

UH Board of Regents considers at-will appointment for next president, no multi-year contract
Published: May. 30, 2014 at 11:42 PM HST
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MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New developments in the controversial process to hire the next UH President. The Board of Regents may not give a contract to the man chosen next Monday to run the University.

The Regents' Chair has praised the two finalists to become UH's next President, publicly.

John Holzman answered criticism over the two finalists recently saying, "Some have focused that there are only two candidates. We've focused on the quality of the candidates."

But privately, UH's spokesperson confirms the Board is discussing an at will appointment for a proposed annual salary of 375-thousand dollars, instead of a multi-year contract.

George Pernsteiner, President of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, said by phone from Colorado, "Generally speaking, many Boards would rather not have multi-year agreements because it gives them greater flexibility, but candidates want it because it gives them more security."

UH told us initially, it was always the plan and a trend nationally, but later admitted the issue was raised in a meeting 3 days ago, and added to Monday's agenda.

Pernsteiner told Hawaii News Now the trend is to offer longer contracts to attract the best candidates, saying " I know of a circumstance where a board offered a longer term contract to demonstrate its commitment to the candidate."

UH has been burned by buyouts when things don't work out with a President.

Evan Dobelle's termination 3 years into a 7 year deal in 2004 cost the university 3.4 million in a settlement package.

Whether Regents choose the IT insider David Lassner or the retired military man, Francis Wiercinski, the job will likely pay 100 thousand less than past President, MRC Greenwood accepted in her 3-year contract.

It's worth noting Greenwood was the only finalist back in 2009, because the two others, dropped out.

Higher education experts also say no contract would set a bad precedent for future recruiting. UH has a history of paying lower salaries than other universities.

It would be a tougher sell without a long term contract commitment, especially for outsiders.

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