Sen. Donna Mercado Kim

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim

Hawaiʻi Sen. Donna Mercado Kim announced today that she will restore the 121 University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa faculty positions that she targeted for cuts in the state budget. 

Kim said in a news release that the decision was based on new information provided by the University, and widespread cuts will not be necessary. 

The Senate considered a budget proposal that would cut about $30 million from UH, in large part of eliminating positions. Kim said the initial review focused on positions that had "neither teaching responsibilities nor grant support." 

"Given that the university’s own policy states that instruction is the university’s highest priority, that was a natural place to start," Kim said. 

“However, we subsequently learned that 99 percent of the positions that UH initially gave us were positions that included retirements, terminations, leaves without pay and sabbaticals. In one case, the individual had died. Fifty percent were temporary positions that were 100 percent federal/grant funded. Thus, all these positions were restored."

“It goes without saying that we would have preferred if the university had provided this critical information at the outset. But in the end, this has been a very productive exercise."

The Senate budget draft would also permanently delete 100 vacant positions across the 10 campuses in the UH system. It would also reduce administrative support services by 20 percent.

In response to Kim, the university released a statement saying that "such a cut would have had devastating effect on the high-quality and challenging education our faculty provide to UH students, as well as the research and service they provide for the people of Hawaiʻi."

"In the future, we hope the university will be provided the opportunity to clarify any mistaken assumptions and address misconceptions before drastic proposals are made public and passed by a legislative chamber. The approach used caused significant harm to the individuals potentially affected and the institution, which is highly regrettable."

House and Senate conferences reconvened earlier today to discuss their versions of the budget. The House version of the budget is in line with the UH Board of Regent's proposal.