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3. Evan Dobelle

President, University of Hawaii

“I think people see a new enthusiasm. They see tangible physical results. They see a reorganization that is can-do and is not focused on the past or caught up in a bureaucracy that’s trained to say no,” says University of Hawaii President Evan Dobelle, citing possible reasons he was voted one of the state’s top power brokers. “I think they see that I don’t have an aversion to risk, and they also see a leadership that I’ve brought to the university that is about getting things done.”

Indeed, to say that Dobelle was not surprised to learn he was among the chosen ones would be an understatement. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t deserving of the designation. Despite taking office in July 2001, following a faculty strike and 11 consecutive years of budget cuts, Dobelle and his team have since managed to increase research money for UH Manoa from $216 million to $260 million, increase student applications by 23 percent, secure $600 million in capital improvement projects ($150 million of which will go toward the new medical school), and devise a plan for rapid expansion and renovation at campuses statewide.

“Dobelle is a visionary man. When he was at Trinity College, he transformed not only the school, but the surrounding community with his vision, and he will do the same for UH and its surrounding communities,” says Mitchell D’Olier, president and chief executive officer of Kaneohe Ranch.

The only person in the nation to have served as president of every kind of institution in higher education, Dobelle has got both lofty ambitions for the future, and pride for his accomplishments past: “If I had been here 10 years, and I had turned morale around in the institution, and had a 23 percent increase in applications, and built a medical school, people would say, ‘he was a great president,’” he claims. “That’s if I had been here 10 years. I’ve done all that, and I’ve been here only a year.”

— Jacy L. Youn

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