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Statement from UH Interim President David McClain on the search for a permanent president

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Nov 28, 2005

Members of the UH Ohana:

The Board of Regents has actively launched a search for a new president of the University of Hawaiʻi. I have often stated that when the search was under way, I would announce my intentions about being a candidate. That time is at hand.

As interim president I‘ve focused on restarting our progress toward our strategic goals, and moving forward in a more sustainable manner than before. As I suggested in my fall convocation remarks, we‘ve had a good measure of success, though certainly there‘s more to be done. Our financial situation is improved, our campuses are operating more efficiently and responsively, and we‘ve begun to use public/private partnerships to expand our capacity to serve our students, thereby better leveraging scarce taxpayer dollars. Our remarkable faculty continue to receive a record number of awards and grants in recognition of their superior scholarship.

It‘s an appropriate time to choose a new president.

Typically, a full term as our university‘s president involves at least a 7-year commitment. That‘s the time normally required to fully shape a new course in this large and complex organization serving 80 thousand students, with a budget today of $1.1 billion. My predecessor‘s contract was for 7 years, extendable to 10; the three presidents before him each served between 7 and 10 years.

In my view, this university needs a president who can commit to serving for this length of time.

As citizens of this university‘s community for the last 15 years, Wendie and I have been grateful for the opportunity to lead UH, and have found the experience to be very fulfilling. Still, there are other goals we‘d like to try to achieve, some of a personal nature, and some which are professional and community-based. We‘ve concluded that we cannot make a full term, 7-year commitment to this university.

If I were to be chosen as the UH president, it‘s likely that I‘d only serve until 2009, another three years beyond the expiration in August of 2006 of my current two-year employment agreement. And then the university would have to search again for a president, with all the time, effort and expense that‘s involved.

As a consequence, I do not intend to actively pursue the UH presidency.

As they have stated, the Regents considered appointing me for such a limited period without a search. I advised them that generally the preference of the university community I know, and particularly my colleagues on the faculty, is that any "permanent" president — whether for three years or for 7-10 years — be chosen via a search.

The university‘s progress during my tenure as interim president owes much to the encouragement of the community at large, as well as to the support of a dedicated and talented cadre of vice presidents, chancellors, faculty and staff, and of course our students. A sincere mahalo nui loa to all of them.

I look forward with enthusiasm to working with the Board of Regents in the coming transition to the next chapter of the University of Hawaiʻi‘s remarkable story, one of opportunity and excellence on behalf of the people of these islands.


David McClain