Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

Working together with our faculty

men around podium

With UHPA’s J.N. Musto, Gov. Neil Abercrombie and V.P. of Community Colleges John Morton.

This is a very happy day for the university. Governor Neil Abercrombie, the University of Hawaiʻi Professional Assembly (UHPA) and UH announced a tentative two-year agreement for UH faculty at a news conference at the governor’s office.

The tentative two-year agreement is unprecedented in that a public sector contract agreement has never before been reached a year in advance.

For the university, this provides stability, an understanding of the financial commitments, but also understanding that we’re working together with our faculty to advance this institution.

Thank you to Regents John Holzman, James Lee, V.P. of Community Colleges John Morton, UHPA’s J.N. Musto and Dave Duffy and Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

We all worked together to come to an agreement that I think everyone is really quite pleased with, and we’re looking forward to support from the state legislature.

Research collaboration with Japan’s Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology

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(left to right) Aska Vanroosebeke from JAMSTEC International Affairs Division; Gregg Moore, UH Mānoa professor of geology and geophysics; Dr. Asahiko Taira, president of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC); me and Kevin Hamilton, director of the International Pacific Research Center.

The president of Japan’s Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) visited UH Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), or more specifically the school’s International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) from April 16-18. Dr. Asahiko Taira’s visit coincided with SOEST’s 25th anniversary celebrations.

JAMSTEC has funded IPRC for the last 17 years for a total of more than $40 million, and has just signed another multi-year cooperative agreement that extends through at least March 2017. This new agreement will continue JAMSTEC funding of collaborative research with IPRC. Our deepest gratitude to Dr. Taira and JAMSTEC for their continued interest in IPRC and SOEST.

Barack Obama Presidential Center

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We are grateful for the support of Howard Hughes Corporation Sr. VP David Striph (center) and Governor Neil Abercrombie (right).

On March 28 I attended an informative and enjoyable breakfast briefing on the proposed Barack Obama Presidential Center. Business and community leaders were invited to hear about proposed plans for the center in Kakaʻako.

Thank you to Governor Neil Abercrombie, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Office of Hawaiian Affairs CEO Kamanaʻo Crabbe, Howard Hughes Corporation Sr. VP David Striph and many other community and business leaders for attending the briefing, which included an excellent video presentation of our proposal. We even secured a few additional generous donations from the Howard Hughes Corporation, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Hawaiian Electric Industries to develop Hawaiʻi’s proposal.

The faculty-led Presidential Center leadership team, headed by American studies Associate Professor Robert Perkinson has been working on this project since the 2008 primaries, even before Barack Obama became president. The team also includes Maxine Burkett (law), Patricia Halagao (education), Maria Simone (architecture) and A.J. Halagao (advisor).

Thank you all for your dedication, hard work and support!

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Mayor Kirk Caldwell (far left) demonstrated his support for the Barack Obama Center, along with other community leaders.

Meeting with President Underwood of the University of Guam

smiling man Robert Underwood

University of Guam President Robert Underwood. Courtesy UOG Facebook

I had a good meeting with the president of the University of Guam, Dr. Robert Underwood, who visited us at Bachman Hall recently. We first met when I traveled to U of Guam in 2012 to help the campus with information technology matters.

Dr. Underwood and I discussed higher education at our respective institutions and the East-West Center hosted a luncheon in his honor while he was in Honolulu.

Visit with the president of the Republic of Kiribati

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Interim President David Lassner and His Excellency Anote Tong, president of the Republic of Kiribati

Today I met with His Excellency Anote Tong, president of the Republic of Kiribati. President Tong is in Hawaiʻi to give a keynote speech at the Pacific Risk Management ʻOhana conference Building Communities of Practice for Resilience at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center. He also gave a public lecture at the East-West Center about the impacts of climate change on Kiribati and other Pacific Islands.

We enjoyed a discussion on education, sustainability and other issues related to being small island communities in the middle of the Pacific.

Making connections at Keio University in Japan

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Participants in the Evidence Based Approach (EBA) Consortium, March 7-8, 2014 Keio University, Kanagawa, Japan

I was in Japan recently to serve on Keio University’s external reviewing committee for the Re-Inventing Japan Project which aims to foster human resources capable of being globally active. The project also provides financial support to the formation of collaborative programs with ASEAN universities that conduct study abroad programs for Japanese students.

We discussed student recruitment, an accreditation plan and other higher ed issues.

State lawmakers tour UH Manoa

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Thanks to UH Manoa Assistant Vice Chancellor Steve Meder, who led the tour with Rep. Isaac Choy to his right. Chancellor Tom Apple follows to his left with the rest of the group as we head to Edmondson Hall.

We had a robust discussion on the physical condition of the UH Mānoa campus with several lawmakers who took time out of their busy schedules yesterday to take a brief tour of some of our facilities. Many thanks to Representatives Isaac Choy, Calvin Say, Karen Awana and Henry Aquino for joining us on the tour. Thanks also to Rep. Linda Ichiyama who sent staff members on her behalf.

Regents John Holzman, James Lee and Randy Moore also joined us as UH Mānoa Assistant Vice Chancellor Steve Meder and UH Mānoa Chancellor Tom Apple led us on a tour of Snyder Hall which is in dire need of renovations. We also walked through Edmondson Hall which is currently being renovated, and we enjoyed exploring a couple of newly renovated classrooms in Sakamaki Hall.

Our deepest thanks to Reps. Choy, Say, Awana and Aquino for visiting our campus. We hope to host another tour for other state lawmakers in the near future.

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UH Manoa Assistant Vice Chancellor Steve Meder gives lawmakers and UH regents a tour of a classroom laboratory in need of repair and renovation.

Building global conservation networks

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Representatives of the Smithsonian Institute, Bishop Museum and UH meet to collaborate.

It’s been about conservation this week.

Hawaiʻi is one of two finalists to host a large conservation conference here in Hawaiʻi. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) 2016 World Conservation Congress is also looking at Istanbul, Turkey.  IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network, and its World Conservation Congress is the world’s largest and most inclusive nature conservation forum held every four years.

The forum hosts 8,000 to 10,000 delegates from around the world to discuss and decide environmental and development issues and policy. This is an amazing opportunity for Hawaiʻi.

I spent Monday with forum representatives on Hawaiʻi Island and attended a couple of receptions in their honor, including one with Governor Neil Abercrombie.

I think the group was pretty impressed with what our state as to offer and the way we have pulled together to bring this important event to our state.

Also last week—the Smithsonian Institution’s National Board was here for a few events, including the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding around the Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network.

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David Lassner with Smithsonian Institute Secretary G. Wayne Clough upon the signing of a memorandum of understanding regarding the Marine Global Earth Observatory (Marine GEO) project.

The Smithsonian is launching a global network of coastal marine observatories called Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network and the university’s Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology is partnering with the Smithsonian on a Hawaiʻi site (not yet determined) to potentially become the first “partner” site in the network. Exciting.

Agreement for international exchange with Tokai University

Japan-Hawaii international exchange agreement

UH Interim President David Lassner and Dr. Yoshiaki Matsumae, Vice President of Tokai University Educational System, renew the agreement for international exchange between the two university systems.

We had the pleasure of meeting officials from the Tokai University Educational System in Japan, who visited us at the University of Hawaiʻi on January 10. The purpose of the visit was to sign an agreement for international exchange between UH and Tokai. An agreement signed by former UH President David McClain in 2008 has expired.

The agreement will provide for the exchange of scholars, students, and academic information and materials to enhance the research and education processes at our institutions. In turn, we hope these exchanges increase the mutual understanding between our respective faculties, scholars and students.

Japan-Hawaii international exchange agreement

University of Hawaii and Tokai University administrators at the international exchange agreement signing.

Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council

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David Lassner with Peter Crouch (Dean, UH Manoa College of Engineering), Charlie Bass (Trustee, The Bass Trust), R.J. “Zap” Zlatoper (Ret. Admiral, USN), Scott Seu (Vice President, Energy Resources and Operations, Hawaiian Electric Co.)

I had the pleasure of speaking before the College of Engineering’s Dean’s Council last week. The council is similar to a corporate board of directors that provides guidance on strategic and political matters that aim to advance educational and research programs within the college.

The meeting included council members, the College of Engineering Dean Peter Crouch, his leadership team and department chairs.

We discussed a wide array of issues, and I outlined my goals and objectives as Interim President. They include improving the university’s image, the Hawaiʻi Graduation Initiative, the Hawaiʻi Innovation Initiative, the deferred maintenance backlog and my willingness to assist the college in becoming an effective and important component of the UH System.