Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Budget Memo Slam

Blog friends:

Since last I murdered to dissect the memos of UH's Chancellor and President, each has pixellated another memo. (Previous readings of Greenwood and Hinshaw can be found here and here.) In the dawn wisdom of 4 a.m. Tuesday, the legislature decided against almost all of the newest proposed cuts of UH. In lieu of performing yet more close-readings of administrative memos, readings that net this blog far more readers than any more loving attentions to teaching or poetry (I must add), I am setting up a Budget Memo Slam. Vote for the best memo of the two that follow. Consider several questions as you weigh the scales of justice.

--Which memo best engages its audience?
--Which memo best addresses the audience of which you consider yourself a member?
--Which memo uses the best and strongest verbs?
--Which memo avoids the most clumsy, cliche-ridden, rhetorical fumblings?
--which memo shows the best control of detail?
--which memo shows the most considered use of Hawaiian words?
--which of these administrators would you follow to the barricades?

Please offer up your votes in the comment stream. 1 indicates an epic fail and 10 denotes a rhetorical perfect game. You may also provide a brief commentary as to why you voted as you did. The winner of the slam will get a copy of a Tinfish publication via the campus mail. If it ever arrives, she may enjoy reading it. Your deadline is Friday by high noon when I will tally the results and send out the prize. Feel free to suggest which publication will most suit your winner, as well.

The first memo that came down the transom this time was from Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw. Here it goes:

Mahalo to the many campus and community members who stepped forward to support UH Mânoa in response to our recent Budget Alert. Your active, strong response sent a loud and clear message regarding the damage that would be created by the proposed reductions of $59M in SB2695 (

Your actions, including visits, emails, phone calls, and testimonies, were impressive and impacting. I offer a special note of appreciation to the strong, passionate group of folks who spent many hours with us at the Capitol during the Committee hearing this group included our students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, donors, business leaders, emeriti and current Regents mahalo for your extra effort in being there and staying into the early morning hours.

The good news is that today the House Finance Committee reduced its proposed cuts of almost $59M for UH to only $2M; however, our contention is that no additional cuts should be made. So, unfortunately, our struggles are not yet over. Still alive is also another proposed cut of $10 million for UH ( this is in addition to our current reductions of $66 million which represents 26% of UH Mânoas State general funds. Please continue to keep in close communication with your legislators at (

In the remaining month of the legislative session, we must maintain the pressure and the presence of our voices. There are three activities we must all pursue:

· educating government and community decision-makers about the value UH Mânoa provides as a major generator of educated citizens, new knowledge, jobs and resources for Hawai'i;

· emphasizing the reality that the future of Hawaii depends on strong state support of higher education, especially to maintain its sole leading research 1 institution;

· demanding that UH Mânoa not be cut any more in fact, we need to be discussing restoration of support.

I will strive to keep the campus informed as developments emerge and I hope you continue to share your ideas with me:

Mahalo for your support,

Virginia S. Hinshaw
Chancellor, University of Hawai'i at Mânoa

The second memo comes in from President M.R.C. Greenwood of the UH system:

Dear university colleagues,

On Sunday evening, we wrote to you to let you know that SB2695, proposed HD1 (which can be found online at ), included a $59 million cut to our special funds budget. We explained what such a cut could mean to the University of Hawai'i's future and asked for your assistance. We are deeply gratified by your strong and impressive show of support for the University of Hawai'i in these crucial days at the state Legislature - and we are proud to say that your support has yielded positive results.

In response to our call for help in fending off this sudden move in the House Finance Committee that would have reduced the university's budget by an additional $59 million, our students, faculty, staff, administrators and community supporters came through to help us avert virtually all of these additional cuts. Your support sent a clear message that higher education is crucial to Hawai'i's future.

In a matter of 48 hours, our university and community network urgently spread the word and managed to garner more than 70 pieces of written testimony opposing the cuts. More than 100 people showed up at the Monday evening hearing to lend their support, with dozens staying into the early morning hours with us to give personal testimony in support of the university.

Thanks to all of you, at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, the House Finance Committee voted to eliminate all of the cuts targeting the university, except a $2 million reduction from the Housing Assistance Revolving Fund. Your support, passion and commitment to this university made it clear to legislators that UH is vital to Hawai'i and its economy.

Because of your strong and impressive support, the university avoided cuts that would have included:
* $20 million from the Tuition and Fees Special Fund
* $15 million from the Cancer Research Special Fund
* $11 million from the Revenue-Undertakings Fund
* $10 million from the Research and Training Revolving Fund
* $750,000 from the Information Technology and Services Special Fund

While we are relieved to have this reprieve, we must remember that the legislative session is not over. Crucial decisions will be made during these remaining weeks of the legislative session, and we must remain vigilant, stay connected and continue to advocate strongly for the University of Hawai'i and our future. We must continue to ensure legislators understand that we have a major role to play in securing a sound economic future for our state. The state of Hawai'i needs to build intellectual capital as a resource for our future. In line with our strong strategic plan, we will continue to meet the growing demand for higher education as our residents turn to us to help them prepare to meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive workforce. We need to continue to share our success stories as a reservoir of talent and as a revenue generator for the state. With the faculty leading our efforts, 58,000 students are progressing toward their education goals and professionals are
entering their fields. The university also took in more than $400 million in research and training revenue this year, generating jobs and fueling Hawai'i's economy.

Most of all, we encourage you to share your personal stories of what the University of Hawai'i means to you. At the hearing last night, although many testimonies made a difference, it was the passion and clear impact of a UH education seen through the eyes of our students that truly resonated with our legislators. I thank our students on behalf of our institution for their perseverance and strength. The receptiveness of our legislators to take those comments to heart and support higher education in Hawai'i should also be recognized.

Your efforts underscored the pride we have in our important work and the university's vital role and responsibility as Hawai'i's sole public higher education institution. You illustrated in clear terms that - working collaboratively - we can accomplish even the most daunting tasks. We will continue to keep you posted on our legislative progress, and I encourage all of you to continue to be part of our efforts to ensure the University of Hawai'i continues to be a vibrant part of Hawai'i's future. Together, we can get the job done.

M.R.C. Greenwood


Jonathan said...

The first, more informal-sounding memo is an 8. It is strong and effective and makes it clear what the stakes are and what action needs to be taken. I think it still needs to be punctuated more effectively for greater prosodical effect.

The second is about a 5. Standard academic-administrator prose with a lot of passive voice. It sounds a bit insincere and perfunctory with its talk of taking those comments to heart. It is too long. "our success stories as a reservoir of talent and a revenue generator" is clumsy prose. I could go on. It's not as horrible as it might have been, because it includes some good specific details.

Andy Godefroy said...

I felt Hinshaw made the more passionate argument and her inclusion of this piece of info:
"Still alive is also another proposed cut of $10 million for UH ("
Info that was lacking in Greenwood's memo was an important consideration for me. I also loved the power and enthusiasm displayed when she said
"· demanding that UH Mânoa not be cut any more in fact, we need to be discussing restoration of support."

Basically, I felt like Hinshaw was speaking to me in a conspiratorial tone whereas Greenwood was talking at me from on high.

Oh and the fact that Hinshaw was first to press counts for a lot as well.

I would grade Hinshaw at a 7 (still has room for improvement)and Greenwood at a 4 for not connecting with her audience.

Andy Godefroy said...

I forgot to add that the winner and loser should both receive

L I V I N G _ P I D G I N :
By Lee A. Tonouchi • First Edition 2002, Second Edition 2009 • $14
Design by Mike Cueva

A collection of da pidgin guerrilla's talks and poems, over 60 pages, some concrete, on language and culture in Hawai`i.
click image for more info

Jonathan Morse said...

And about other budget options under the category of "political suicide," see