Some University of Hawaiʻi faculty union members are dissatisfied with system President David Lassner on how he handled last week's proposed budget cuts by the state Senate that would have terminated 121 jobs.
"There was significant misinformation, potentially, and there were individuals who could be harmed by funding groups, finding that they may be terminated," UH Professional Assembly Executive Director Kristeen Hanselman said.
The Senate budget proposal that was debated last week called for $30 million in cuts over the next two years, including the termination of 121 faculty positions at UH Mānoa and another 100 unfilled jobs across the UH system.
At the Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, Lassner said they made it a priority to reverse the cuts and “succeeded.”
Hanselman said that the university made the decision not to inform the 121 faculty members that their name was on the list to be terminated.
“So we made a concerted decision ... to inform UHPA members if they were on the list,” Hanselman said. “We do not want our faculty members unprepared to deal with a fallout, should a termination had remained in the budget.”
UHPA President Lynne Wilkens said in a written testimony for Thursday’s BOR meeting that they have “lost confidence in UH leadership and in David Lassner as the UH president.”
Last week, Sen. Donna Mercado Kim proposed to eliminate 121 positions, but backed out of the plan after receiving new information from the university.
The university gave the Senate positions that included retirements, terminations, leaves without pay and sabbaticals. In one case, the individual had died. Fifty percent were temporary positions that were federal/grant funded, according to Kim in a statement released last week.
Lassner submitted a list to Kim of staff to potentially cut. Kim's office confirmed that they received the list.
Kim said the initial review focused on positions that had "neither teaching responsibilities nor grant support."
UH spokesman Brent Suyama said that the university sent out emails to all faculty and staff across the 10 campuses to inform them of the proposal.
“As more developments occurred, leadership sent out more emails to keep the UH community updated of the changes,” Suyama said. “We believe moving forward, it is important to ensure lawmakers and the public understand the critical role in education and contributions to the community the University of Hawaiʻi provides.”