Governor Fills Vacancies on UH Board of Regents

Simeon Acoba
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Simeon Acoba
Simeon Acoba

HONOLULU – Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the nominations of Simeon Acoba, Dr. Dileep Bal, Peter Hoffmann and Helen Nielsen to the University of Hawaii (UH) Board of Regents (BOR), effective immediately. All are interim appointments subject to state Senate approval.



Acoba was appointed to a City and County of Honolulu seat, Bal to the Kauai County seat, Hoffmann to the Hawaii County seat and Nielsen to the Maui County seat. The BOR appointees fill vacancies left by four recent resignations on the 15-member board.


“With backgrounds in law, health, the military and environmental sustainability, these appointees bring a diverse spectrum of leadership to the University of Hawaii,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “They each have a proven record of success in their respective fields of expertise and will help guide the university to a new level of excellence.”


The governor’s nominees were selected from a list of nominations provided to the governor by the Regents Candidate Advisory Council.


Retired Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Simeon R. Acoba, Jr. is currently a lecturer in law at the UH Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law. Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court in May 2000, he was an associate judge on the Intermediate Court of Appeals from 1994‐2000, a circuit court judge from 1980‐1994 and a district court judge from 1979‐1980. Justice Acoba started his career as a law clerk for Chief Justice William Richardson, before serving as special assistant to UH President Harlan Cleveland, a deputy attorney general and engaging in the private practice of law. He is the founding chair of the Hawaii Access to Justice (ATJ) Commission and is currently chair of the Judiciary’s Strategic Planning Committee on ATJ. Justice Acoba is also co‐chair of the Judicial Administration Committee of the Hawaii State Bar Association and director of the Hawaii Justice Foundation and of the Mediation Center of the Pacific. A graduate of Farrington High School, Justice Acoba received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii and his Juris Doctor degree from the Northwestern University School of Law.


Dr. Dileep G. Bal began working for the Hawaii Department of Health in 2005 as the district health officer for Kauai and as special advisor to the director of the Department on Cancer, Chronic Disease, Tobacco and Nutrition/Obesity. He was previously with the State of California, serving as chief of the Cancer Control Branch within the Department of Health Services. Dr. Bal is the founder of California’s cancer, tobacco and obesity control efforts, which have been universally acclaimed for its innovations and effectiveness. Prior to going to California in 1981, he was in Tucson, Arizona for 10 years, where he was director of the Pima County Health Department. He has continuously had full-time, clinical or adjunct professor faculty appointments for the duration of his entire four-decade-long career, at the University of Arizona, University of California, Davis, and currently at UH. Dr. Bal has been on editorial boards and an active reviewer for numerous medical journals and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He is a frequent speaker on public health, medical and social justice issues, both nationally and internationally. Dr. Bal is very active with the American Cancer Society and was the National President in 2001. Born and raised in India, Dr. Bal has graduate degrees in public health from Columbia and Harvard Universities and did his clinical residency at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.


Peter Hoffmann was on the Hawaii County Council from 2004-2012, representing the Kohala District and serving as council chair for two of those years. From 1993-1996, he was director of mission support for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a 55-nation diplomacy organization headquartered in Vienna, Austria. Prior to that, Hoffmann served in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps. Retiring in the rank of Colonel, assignments included 25 months in Vietnam, two years in Chiangmai, Thailand, and four years in Hawaii, where he finished his duty with the 25th Infantry Division. He also served three years in Munich, Germany with an Army Intelligence Group; two years on the U.S. Army staff in the Pentagon; commander of an intelligence battalion at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey; commander of a recruiting battalion in Boston, Massachusetts; commander of the POW/MIA team in Bangkok, Thailand; and three years as a military attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Austria. Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, Hoffmann graduated from St. Peter’s College with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and received a master’s degree in history from New York University. He and his wife Joan recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

A resident of Maui for nearly 30 years, Helen Nielsen is a field representative for U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and co-owner/manager of commercial properties on Maui and Hawaii Island. She previously worked in New York City as a reports analyst for W.R. Grace and Company and as administrative manager for Artkraft Strauss. With a passion for community service and environmental sustainability, Nielsen was a founder of the Maui Coastal Land Trust (MCLT) in 2001. Since then, MCLT has protected more than 14,000 acres in Maui County. She also served as transition leader and the first board president for the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (HILT), which was formed in 2011, merging nonprofits from Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island. The purpose of HILT is to preserve iconic lands by identifying and creating sustainable partnerships to protect unique and endangered resources in Hawaii. Nielsen has served as president of the Maui Japanese Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the Maui County Salary Commission and the Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) Committee on Economic Development. A resident of Kaupo, Nielsen studied business at Kingsborough Community College and Pace University in New York City.


University of Hawaii Board of Regents


The affairs of the University of Hawaii fall under the general management and control of the Board of Regents, pursuant to Article X, Hawaii State Constitution, and Chapter 304A, Hawaii Revised Statutes. The board formulates policy and exercises control over the university through its executive officer, the university president. The board has exclusive jurisdiction over the internal structure, management and operation of the university.


The Office of the Governor oversees more than 180 boards and commissions established by the state constitution, statutes or executive orders.