Frank Wiercinski, the retired U.S. Army general who’s vying for the University of Hawaii presidency, was met with praise and regular rounds of applause at his second public forum Friday — a sharp contrast from the boos and anti-military protests that dominated his first appearance on Tuesday.

Dozens of people attended Friday morning’s Q&A at Leeward Community College Theatre, most of them middle-aged adults, and many of whom appeared to be faculty members. Unlike the vocal students and other activists on Monday who crowded UH Manoa’s architecture building auditorium to denounce Wiercinski’s military ties, attendees on Friday sat calmly and seemed generally supportive of his candidacy.

Questions ranged from UH athletics to the university’s severe repair-and-maintenance backlog.

The military officer-turned-business consultant is one of two finalists in the UH Board of Regents’ search for the next university president. He’s competing for the position against David Lassner, the university’s longtime information technology executive who’s been serving as the university’s interim president since M.R.C. Greenwood resigned a year ago.

Wiercinski served in the Army until 2013, after which he founded a local consulting firm focused on strategic business development throughout the Asia-Pacific region. He touts his collaborative, hands-on leadership skills and ability to manage a complex organization without enforcing hierarchical structures. He also promises to improve college-completion rates and enhance access to education for all of Hawaii’s students.

He received his bachelor’s degree at West Point and graduate degrees at two Army colleges but has never worked in academia.

At both forums, Wiercinski spoke of making UH “the jewel of the Pacific,” and turning the negative perception about the university into one that’s positive and optimistic.

“I see where the potential (in UH) is,” he said Friday. “I just can’t stand on the sidelines and cheer — it’s just not in my nature.”

Janet Six, an archaeologist and professor at UH Maui College, told Civil Beat after the event that she thinks Wiercinski is the man for the job. She said she thinks he’ll offer a “breath of fresh air” to the university and help UH achieve its goals of enhancing college students’ success.

Larry Ordonez, a businessman who graduated from UH in the 1970s, said he liked how Wiercinski would prioritize expanding the university’s role in Asia-Pacific relations.

Critics on Tuesday, on the other hand, questioned Wiercinski’s background, saying a retired military general — particularly one who has no higher education administrative experience — has no place at a public university whose mission is to serve Native Hawaiians and other kamaaina.

UH serves about 54,400 students, 85 percent of whom are residents.

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