- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - An online petition is questioning the qualifications of one of the finalists to become the next University of Hawaii president.

More than 350 people have signed the petition against retired Lt. Gen. Frank Wiercinski. The petition’s accompanying letter claims Wiercinski, a three-star general who retired after leading U.S. Army Pacific for two years, isn’t qualified to lead a public education institution.

English professor Cynthia Franklin said the petition will be presented to the Board of Regents when they meet Thursday.

“His lack of qualification was compounded by the fact that he didn’t seem capable of thinking outside the military box,” she said.

Interim President David Lassner is the other finalist for the job. Lassner took over last year after M.R.C. Greenwood said she would step down to deal with health problems and spend more time with family.

The letter objects to Wiercinski’s lack of experience in higher-education leadership and a lack of social, cultural and historical knowledge of doing business in Hawaii, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (https://is.gd/s5T2d9 ).

Wiercinski told the newspaper he spent a lifetime defending the right to free speech, and he won’t ignore that oath just because of comments directed at him.

“I would only hope that I may be judged based on who I am as a person, my ability to lead and my willingness to serve,” he said.

Last week, students protested at least one of Wiercinski’s public forums, holding signs and shouting about over-militarization of Hawaii.

The regents are expected to select the president in June.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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