Discussion

LETTER: Lt. Gen. Wiercinski Should Not Be UH President

May 9, 2014, 9:32 AM HST
* Updated May 9, 9:34 AM
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Lt. General Frank Wiercinski is not qualified to serve as president of the University of Hawaii. At least not yet.

He does not meet the minimum qualifications of the Board of Regents or the Executive Committee of Manoa Faculty Senate.

He does not have a doctorate degree from a respected institution of higher learning. He would not receive tenure at Manoa nor does he have “five years or more” of successful leadership in higher education.

This is disturbing: as president he would rule on every tenure and promotion application in the system. Perhaps he could be a candidate one day: he could obtain a doctorate in management (possibly from Shidler) he could seek a professorship and work his way up the leadership ladder in the university. He is only 57 years old.

Moreover, as evident from his May 6th presentation, he does not seem to understand and meet other key job requirements. The president has a duty to “advance the university’s strategic commitment to native Hawaiians, other indigenous persons (including Pacific Islanders) and under-represented people.” According to the Board, that duty includes making Manoa “a model indigenous serving institution, to include Malama aina and sustainability.”

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Wiercinski was asked directly about Malama aina—“caring for the land. ” He responded by stating that the Army had an outstanding record as to endangered plants and species. In fact, in a September 2013 article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald he was quoted as saying: “I don’t think anybody does it better than us, when it comes to protecting the environment and being cognizant of and protective of cultural sites.” He failed to touch upon the environmental failures of the military: the clean up Kahoolawe as promised, and the failure to be fully forthcoming as to the use and clean up of depleted uranium shells at Pohakuloa, Makua and Schofield Barracks.

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Wiercinski was also asked about “Hawaiian values,” after all, the military is responsible for inter alia the wrongful overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the unconstitutional imposition of martial law during World War II, the controversial use of “ceded lands” and the failure to address the effects of nuclear testing in the Marshall islands. Wiercinski seemed to lack the trust of the Hawaiians present.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower became president of Columbia [University] after serving as commander of all Allied forces in Europe during World War II. By most accounts, his tenure as University President was a “disaster”. The military culture and the world of academia are vastly different.

In one, orders come down from the top, and orders are obeyed, “or people die.” A university is based on faculty governance, consensus building, academic freedom and a shared dedication to learning, teaching, and research and community service.

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This is a public university. The president of the university is the intellectual leader and face of the state to the rest of the world. Wiercinski should not be president.

Williamson Chang is professor of law and member of the Faculty Senate, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Somerset Wong is a third year student at Richardson School of Law.

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