Senator Donna Mercado Kim has completed a review of more than a hundred positions at the University of Hawaii that were in jeopardy of being dropped. Earlier this week, the UH administration was warned of a proposed $30 million budget cut at the State Legislature.
Senator Kim announced she reviewed the 121 UH positions that had been considered for elimination, and based on new information provided by the university, determined the cuts will not be necessary.
In a statement, Kim said the initial review focused on positions that did not have teaching responsibilities or grant support. Mainly because the university's policy states instruction is its highest priority.
But after receiving further information from UH, she found half of the positions were temporary, and were federal or grant funded. The original information also included retirements, terminations, leaves without pay, and sabbaticals. Kim ultimately concluded the positions will not be dropped.
"It goes without saying that we would have preferred if the university had provided this critical information at the outset," said Kim. "But in the end, this has been a very productive exercise.
"Getting the university administration to sit down and look closely at each position, considering grants, funding sources and instructional workload for 121 positions, showed UH administrators and legislators how problematic interpreting teaching workloads and justifications or criteria for substitution of other activities for classroom teaching. This review showed use how instructional teaching workloads and the teaching policies of the university have been compromised."
Administrators at UH say they are satisfied that the proposal was not adopted yesterday. In a statement, university officials say they provided more than 2,200 pages of documents, tables and narrative information to the Senate Higher Education Committee to answer multiple inquiries.
"Clearly, that was insufficient to provide enough information to prevent the broad and sweeping proposals by the Senate to reduce the overall UH budget. In the future, we hope the university will be provided the opportunity to clarify any mistaken assumptions and address misperceptions 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."
UH says staff still need to review the full details of the budget proposal to understand how the university will address other significant cuts proposed in the Senate budget as well as how the Board of Regents' requests for new support were handled.
Updated Saturday, 3/23 at 12 PM