Wonderblunder is just a warm-up. The Senate Accountability Committee should leap into the big-leagues and expand its investigation into UH’s lack of accountability and transparency on a more critical issue: signing a contract with the U.S. Navy’s war-fighting arm to establish system-wide a military research center, originally called a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) and now called an ARL (Applied Research Laboratory).

On July 15, 2008 the ARL’s final contract was executed despite years of widespread student and faculty protest at Manoa and other campuses, a six-day sit-in at President David McClain’s Bachman Hall office that drew negative news stories nationally and locally, rejection by the Manoa Faculty Senate, chancellor, Native Hawaiian groups and a withering article in a national academic newspaper, as shown in the documents that follow.

Since letting the contract, UH announced in 2008 three defense-related contracts, totaling around $2 million—but then has invoked silence about the touted $50 million.

This special Senate committee is urged to investigate the lack of accountability and transparency of the UH system and provide full disclosure to the public on these and perhaps other questions:

  1. Instead of Wonderblunder’s vanished $200,000, where is the phantom $50 million UH suckered students and taxpayers into fantasizing UARC might bring into UH, according to a statement by President David McClain and other officials?
  2. Instead of mismanagement of athletics on one campus, investigate the military research center contract that hijacked UH’s academic integrity and credibility systemwide by limiting the institution’s core value to be an arena for the free flow of ideas essential for creating knowledge and disseminating it to students, other scholars and the public. Unclassified research results must be sent to Navy censors who determine whether it is “sensitive and appropriate for disclosure regardless of medium,” according to the UH-Navy contract.
  3. For the first three years of the five-year contract, no classified military research was to be conducted at UH, McClain stated. After three years UH was to evaluate continuing UARC–but what did UH’s evaluation conclude? Was any classified military research conducted at UH during those three years? What about after those three years? Were any limits placed on the disclosure of research information and, if so, in what way and on whom?

Lastly, will the five-year contract be renewed in 2013 and, if so, why, and, if not, why not? Will the public be allowed to comment?

A special Senate investigation into these questions far more critical to UH’s reputation, credibility and integrity than Wonderblunder is urgently needed.

About the author: Dr. Beverly Deepe Keever taught journalism and communications at UH-Manoa for 29 years, and is now a professor emerita.

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