The University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents and President M.R.C. Greenwood reviewed the findings of the Senate Special Committee -02 regarding the oversight, accountability, and transparency of the operational and financial management of the university and agree with its recommendations calling for greater transparency and accountability.
The board shall review its policies and procedures to clarify roles, responsibilities and lines of authority between and among the regents, the president, and the chancellors of the university’s 10 campuses. The regents shall also review the reporting responsibilities of the Office of General Counsel. The board and the president agree that these reviews shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the university’s abiding commitment to “shared governance,” in which stakeholders are assured a role in the decision-making process while final responsibility rests with the board. More than ever it behooves us as leaders of an academic community to respect and maintain a balance between participation and accountability. The board shall inform the committee of the results of its reviews.
The board shall take steps, as recommended by the committee, and in consultation with the Office of Information Practices, to revamp its own policies, procedures and practices so that they meet the requirements of, and are in keeping with the spirit of, Hawaii’s Sunshine laws.
The board shall respond to the committee’s requests for specific information as enumerated in its report and, if necessary, consult with committee staff to ensure, to the extent possible, that its responses meet the committee’s needs.
The Board of Regents has taken other steps that serve the same interests as those articulated by the committee. They include:
1. Convening an Advisory Task Group on Operational and Financial Controls Improvement, which has identified lapses in judgment and a general failure to take responsibility that resulted in the concert fiasco. Phase 2 of the Task Group’s work will include determining if the university’s current policies require clarification and revision with respect to the assignment of responsibility, delegation of authority, and accountability for duties performed by university personnel. The Task Group included independent and respected members from the accounting field, a member of which served as its chair. These outside members volunteered their time and service out of commitment to the university and its mission and to them we owe a debt of gratitude.
2. Conducting an audit of the financial transactions of the Athletic Department that recommended many steps to improve its management and strengthen transparency and accountability. These recommendations shall be implemented.
3. Forming a Task Group to review existing board policy governing intercollegiate athletics and to recommend improvements that are in keeping with best practices.
The autonomy and independence of the university are no less essential to the effective discharge of its mission than transparency and accountability. The board appreciates the committee’s acknowledgement that it “recognizes that the university has “general autonomy over its internal affairs” while “the legislature has the exclusive jurisdiction to identify laws of statewide concern.”
The committee recommended that the Board of Regents submit “potential legislation” on internal financial, operational, and personnel management; consider outside monitoring to ensure compliance with various recommendations for internal improvements; and post financial statements on the website of each campus that detail the expenditure of tuition revenues from that campus. All these matters will receive serious consideration but remain within the purview of the Board of Regents.