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UH exec raises reward incompetence

Dr. Joel Fischer

The front page headline​ of the Sunday Star-Advertiser virtually screamed:  “UH ​RAISES WOULD COST $1M,” (Star-Advertiser, 8/18/15)​! That article​ leaves me, after 40 years as a professor at UH, Manoa, with only one response: SHIBAI! Maybe even two SHIBAI! No, for sure three SHIBAI!

Shibai 1: The people who received the raises generally are paid so much more than the faculty and staff at UH that the need to add to their already bloated income makes UH look ridiculous​, even anti-academic​. Look at some of their salaries as reported by the Star-Advertiser. It is likely that many of the ​10 ​executives ​listed on the front page, with salaries from $279,000 to $522,000 (!), are already millionaires from feeding out of the public trough. They need cost of living increases like the rest of us need our ​salaries​ reduced to pay for these raises.

Shibai 2. The raises “were based on performance reviews and were only given to those who received an outstanding or superior rating​!​”​(emphasis added).​ These execs are outstanding?! Give ​m​e a break. These are the execs that lurch from one disaster to another that they themselves create. Ain’t it wonderful that UH rewards some of the most incompetent UH employees—all administrators—​for causing, not solving, problems? Ask any faculty member or staff: ​many of​ these “execs”​ ​can​​ ​barely function in a modern-day university​ that purports to aim at excellence.​ The evidence of their incompetence: dilapidated, outdated facilities and awful national ratings, to wit, UH Manoa was ranked last year by “US News and World Report” as 168th out of 201 research universities nationwide and receiving an evaluation score of only 23 points out of 100, a failing score in any class in the country. These leaders are outstanding? At what?

Shibai 3: Outstanding performance reviews, eh?​ Says whom?​ ​There are way too many examples of individual incompetence in this bunch, but let’s just take a few. President Lassner: fires the best chancellor we have ever had at UH because others told him to.​ What kind of “leader” just does what he is told to do? Jerris Hedges​, Dean of the Medical School, makes a completely undeserved $500,000 and change: facing continuous budget shortfalls​ in the Med School​, ​he reportedly ​moves his staff to the Cancer Center, and pays them out of the Center’s funds​, ​thereby—in one fell swoop—saving the ​M​ed ​S​chool money and taking money away fr​o​m the Cancer Center that is supposed to go to research on cancer. And, most unbelievable of all, ​Vice Chancellor ​Reed Dasenbrock: he’s outstanding all right. He has the most faculty and staff complaints of any general UH administrator ​in the history of UH​​!​ He has been accused of racism, sexism, ​harassment, ​temper tantrums and other egregious offenses. He is under investigation by UH right now. He should be fired, not rewarded. Unless, of course, his actions are covertly supported by other UH administrators and the Board of Regents. Not beyond the realm of possibility​, say I​.

It seems like UH is living in a fantasy world wherein incompetence is viewed as “outstanding” (outstanding incompetence?), where these so called “evaluations” are completed without any transparency, and where the Mad Hatter would as much be at home as he is in Alice’s Wonderland. The only possible rational explanation is that the incompetence starts at the top, with the Board of Regents, and their incompetence begets even more incompetence as the incompetent at the top hire ever more incompetent executives and administrators at all levels.

Systemic problems require systemic changes. When will the community realize this?

Dr. Joel Fischer, ACSW​ (735-7582)​
Professor (Ret.)
University of Hawai`i, School of Social Work
Honolulu, HI 96822

Dr. Joel Fischer retired in December, 2009, after 40 years as a professor at UH Manoa.