Shame on the University of Hawaii: You Lost Gary Ostrander
I don’t think that anyone would debate the UNIVERSAL TRUTH that the University of Hawaii has made bad choices in its hiring of administrators to lead the university. And one would forgive UH one or even two lapses in reasoning given the highly politicized nature of this state run university where closed door politics rules in a state that reflexively votes for ANY democratic candidate, just for that reason alone……Linda Lingle, you were truly a miracle in time!
But in addition to making bad choices in hiring, we should add to the list of UH chronic deficiencies and spurious misadventures, the lackluster pseudo-attempt at retaining the one administrator at UH that I and countless others revered, Gary Ostrander. Now I admit that my appreciation for Dr. Ostrander is an opinion, which will be branded as biased by some, and in truth not fully vetted through any formal process of evaluation. But this glowing image is also the view of many other Dean’s and Directors, other leaders and accomplished faculty members at UH, who still miss having Dr. Ostrander in his role as Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at UH Manoa.
The reason for dredging up the letter I wrote to MRC Greenwood, the president of UH at the time of Dr. Ostrander’s departure, and publishing it now on my blog –
is that I was rummaging through my virtual library of files a few weeks ago and opened up the letter that is seen below. It instantly took me back to that uncertain time when Dr. Ostrander was contemplating his fate. And it spontaneously sparked the return of my frustration that was felt at the time, prompting me to share this documentation with anyone interested in the history of Dr. Ostrander’s transition from UH to FSU.
It is truly rare to find an administrator that is competent, honest, respectful, responsive, unbiased (as much as any human can possibly be), open minded, humble, intelligent, visionary, engaging, a good listener and open to opposing views. To me this describes Gary Ostrander.
In an email written April, 2012
If the University of Hawaii loses Gary Ostrander, it will represent the greatest loss to the University since my arrival 35 years ago. And it will be among the biggest mistakes UH has ever made.
Gary Ostrander is the best research administrator UH has ever had, and the best University administrator that I have ever worked with and for. Honest, smart, visionary, detailed oriented, experienced, tirelessly responding to challenges big and small. He is focused entirely on what is best for UH, always maintaining equipoise and fairness but conservative and careful, and the best steward of RTRF the University could ever have.
You can’t imagine how many people rely on Gary Ostrander for support and guidance. Not just Deans and Directors; his door is always open to anyone who knocks, and he treats everyone with the same respect. He is charismatic and articulate, but he does not need to hear himself talk. Rather, he is an excellent listener, and follows through with action.
I’m sure you have heard from Gary’s critics in the past. But you may not have heard enough from his supporters. Until now, there was no reason to worry about Gary’s commitment to remaining at UH. Clearly Gary is willing at any time to get in harm’s way to protect the University from mediocrity, entitlement mentality, dishonesty, and self-serving critics. I would be willing to bet that the overwhelming silent majority would give Gary the highest of praise. Dr. Greenwood, we cannot afford to lose Gary Ostrander. I say this sincerely and with unwavering determination.
As professor emeritus, I am a pediatrician who was Director of Neonatology at Kapiolani for 20 years. I became the first director of the RCMI supported university Clinical Research Center in 1995. Medical School Dean Cadman recruited me in 1999 as the Director for Research. I subsequently worked with Interim Dean Shoemaker, Interim Dean Ostrander, Dean Hedges to develop and strengthen research infrastructure at JABSOM. From 2007 - 2011, I worked closely with Dr Ostrander in the Office of the Vice Chancellor which affirmed my admiration for Dr. Ostrander’s ability to lead the University to new heights.
In summary, I urge you to take the strongest action possible to retain Dr. Ostrander in what I believe should be a role that combines Dr. Gaines position with his present one by combining the Vice President for Research with the Vice Chancellor position he currently holds.