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UH-Hilo chancellor leaving post

University of Hawaii at Hilo Chancellor Don Straney is moving on.

The UH announced today Straney will be leaving his chancellor post Aug. 1 to serve as vice president of academic planning and policy, a leadership role within the UH system.

A national search for Straney’s permanent replacement will begin immediately, the UH said in a news release. During the interim, Marcia Sakai, currently UH-Hilo’s vice chancellor for administration, will serve as interim chancellor.

“Don has done an outstanding job at UH-Hilo, and I know he will excel as our vice president of academic planning and policy, a position critical to the entire UH system as we continue to improve our collaborative efforts to meet the needs of the entire state,” UH President David Lassner said a statement this morning.

The UH’s announcement comes about a month after multiple anonymous sources familiar with the university told the Tribune-Herald Straney could be leaving. Those sources had reported spotting Lassner at the Hilo campus conducting meetings with stakeholders.

Straney has served as UH-Hilo chancellor since 2010. The UH says he’s helped improve graduation rates and increase the number of transfer students, Native Hawaiian students and science, technology, engineering and math students from the island’s community colleges.

The UH-Hilo has also reported declining enrollment during Straney’s reign. In April, the campus submitted an enrollment management plan that seeks to add about 300 students over the next five years. Most UH campuses have similarly reported enrollment drops in recent years.

Straney had said at the time he believed the Hilo campus needed to do a better job of attracting first-time freshman — particularly kamaaina — and retaining current students.

Straney is replacing Risa Dickson, the UH’s current vice president of academic planning and policy. Dickson notified UH leadership in the fall of her intention to return to faculty at the end of the 2016-17 school year, according to the news release. Straney will be one of seven vice presidents within the the UH system who serve directly under Lassner.

Both Straney and Sakai’s appointments are subject to approval by the Board of Regents at its July 20 meeting.

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