The new interim chancellor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa made his first public speech to faculty and students Tuesday.
Dr. Robert Bley-Vroman replaces the dismissed Tom Apple, and has been at the university for decades.
He said the community needs to rally around UH. “Society as a whole — and that means all of us and especially the legislature — needs to understand the importance of an educated population in the state,” he said.
Bley-Vroman acknowledged that the university may have not done all it can to let the community know the kind of work that is being done at what he called a world-class research university.
“But we really need to get out there,” he said. “We need to interact more with people. We need to have people understand how good (this university is), what a jewel this is and how important it is to preserve that.”
The interim chancellor acknowledged that student tuition is high and said he will be looking for ways to lower those fees. He also emphasized the importance of maintaining a quality university system.
“It’s really the civic glue that holds us together, and without that, we are not going to be able to make progress,” he said.
Bley-Vroman said there will be an uphill battle because of the financial problems the system faces, but he added the faculty and staff are prepared for that struggle.
“We have this kind of commitment. Ohana is an overused word, but I think that’s pretty much (what we have) right here,” he said. “We have this understanding and love for the university and that gets us a long ways.”