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Proposed UH Position Reductions Raising Concerns

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The University of Hawai?i has warned that proposed budget reductions by the Hawaii Legislature would result in the elimination of hundreds of positions.

Administrators say planned cuts would total $30 million over two years and permanently delete 121 faculty positions that have already been filled at the flagship UH-Manoa campus, as well as another 100 vacant positions throughout the 10-campus system.

University of Hawai?i Chief Financial Officer Kalbert Young, who called the proposal "particularly alarming," said senators are proposing $10 million in cuts in fiscal year 2019-2020 and $19.5 million the following fiscal year.

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, a Democrat and chairwoman of the senate Higher Education Committee, said personnel cuts will be based on whether faculty taught undergraduate classes and received research grants during the past two years.

"We noticed that a number of positions actually had 'zero' for number of courses taught, and 'zero' for number of awards of grants brought in," Kim said.

The proposal includes an $8 million reduction in administrative support services, Young said.

Kristeen Hanselman, executive director of the University of Hawai?i Professional Assembly, said the cuts would affect a number of departments.

"They're very broad. They're very deep," Hanselman said. "It would be a very major blow to the institution."

The university's professional assembly said a number of faculty members were on leave during 2017 and 2018 and many did not receive grants because of continuing funding from previous years.

Members of the House and Senate will discuss the budget in upcoming conference committee negotiations.

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