As faculty members who are familiar with the rules on the hiring and firing of our colleagues, we know that confidentiality is there for a good reason. But that reason is not to cover up influence-peddling from big donors in the outside community nor to hide back-door maneuvering and boorishness on the part of inside competitors.

UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple asks a shouting protestor to please let Lt. General Francis Wiercinski  speak without interruption during his public presentation at the UH Architecture Auditorium on May 6, 2014.

UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple, May 2014.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

And our top administrators get the big bucks not simply because they know how to follow the confidentiality rules — they are the public face of the University of Hawaii; they are “Cæsar’s Wife” and they must always act in such a way as to avoid bringing ridicule to the institution. In this case they failed.

They followed the pattern of appearing to indulge in misfeasance at midnight, whether this was actually what happened or not. Rich businessmen from downtown, members of the Board of Regents, and top officials who make four times what full professors make each year (eight times what assistant profs make and 16 times what grad assistants live on if they’re lucky) are never the objects of innate trust in the best of times. But this is closer to the worst of times.

All this said, it’s rather amazing, in the dead of summer, how many students and faculty members you can find who have been appalled at the amateurish way Bachman Hall has managed to do this. Yesterday, one of my old ex-GI students commented to me that he saw better personnel operations at Tet-68 in Saigon. “At least when they shot guys in the street, they did it on camera and not in the back room.”

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About the Author

  • Stephen O'Harrow
    Stephen O'Harrow is a professor of Asian Languages and currently one of the longest-serving members of the faculty at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. A resident of Hawaii since 1968, he's been active in local political campaigns since the 1970s and is a member of the Board of Directors, Americans for Democratic Action/Hawaii.