Dobelle: 'Come off the plantation'

In an article to be published Friday in The Chronicle of Education, former University of Hawaii President Evan Dobelle didn’t mince words. “It’s time for them to come off the plantation,” he said, blasting the UH Board of Regents — which fired him last month — for resisting much-needed change. Describing the escalating conflicts that ultimately led to his dismissal as “a battle for the soul of Hawaii,” Dobelle told The Chronicle that he understood what the local community needed, but chose to ignore the local political structure. “This is not some backward community out in the middle of the Pacific,” answered UH regent Kitty Lagareta. “These are issues that any board would have had to deal with.” Specifically, Dobelle’s critics have cited his failure to fulfill his fundraising and other promises, and questionable use of funds.  DISCUSS

The article, by assistant editor Julianne Basinger, is titled, “Wipeout in Hawaii,” and includes a biography of Dobelle and a timeline of his three year tenure at UH.

“Mr. Dobelle received a warm aloha when he arrived in Hawaii,” Basinger writes. “It didn’t last.”

Despite his termination “for cause” — a distinction that makes him ineligible for a $2 million severance package called for in his contract — and the legal battle only beginning to unfold, Dobelle is adamant that he was good for the university.

“I accomplished everything I set out to do,” he told The Chronicle. “I launched a new era.”

“People aren’t used to success in Hawaii,” he added.

Many have characterized the battle between Dobelle and the Board of Regents as one between an aggressive and outspoken outsider and Hawaii’s culture at large. “Dobelle flunked ‘Locals 101,'” said one analysis in The Honolulu Advertiser.

“The island culture is self-effacing, and his style couldn’t be more different,” UH professor Kem Lowry told The Chronicle.

Published weekly with a circulation of over 450,000, The Chronicle is a leading source of national academic news and information.

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