Regents starting talks on 2 finalists


POSTED: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents will meet tomorrow afternoon to start discussing which of two finalists could become the next UH president.

But the decision is not likely to be made or announced just yet, board Chairman Allan Landon said last week.




M.R.C. Greenwood


        Director, Foods for Health Initiative, University of California, Davis; chancellor emerita, UC-Santa Cruz

» Age: 66


» Background: Former provost and senior vice president for academic affairs in the UC system; former White House associate director of Office of Science and Technology Policy


Robert J. Jones


        Senior vice president for system administration for the five-campus University of Minnesota system

» Age: 57


» Background: Joined the University of Minnesota as a professor of agronomy and plant genetics after earning his Ph.D. in 1978 in crop physiology from the University of Missouri


Both finalists—M.R.C. Greenwood of the University of California, Davis, and Robert Jones of the University of Minnesota—visited UH campuses on four islands this month amid a busy schedule of public and private meetings.

A 14-member UH Advisory Presidential Selection Committee selected the finalists from among 600 applications and nominations. A third finalist, who was not named, dropped out because of the public search process.

The committee will also meet tomorrow, possibly for the last time, just before the regents' meeting.

Search committee members will brief the regents in a closed-door session on the two finalists, their recommendations and public comments received by the committee.

“;The two candidates are highly regarded and have distinguished leadership credentials and records of leadership,”; said Donna Tanoue, chairwoman of the search committee. “;We vetted them, talked to many references and talked to individuals that weren't provided by them.”;

Five of the 15 regents are on the search committee, although two of the five regents are ex-officio members and did not have a vote.

Landon said although most of the other regents have met the two candidates, more work and discussion needs to take place before a president is chosen.

The candidates are aware of the salary range ($450,000 to $550,000) and benefits of the job, including a car, expense account and the use of College Hill, the Manoa home of the president. But the details and length of a contract have not been worked out.

The board chairman said the regents might start talking to a candidate, or both candidates, about contract terms tomorrow, but it is unlikely that a final decision will be made at that time.

It is also possible that the search will continue, although the board members have said they would like to make the decision by the time UH President David McClain is scheduled to step down in July.

Landon said the university's experience with former President Evan Dobelle, who was chosen by a search committee in closed process, was a factor in the board's decision to make the names of the finalists public.

“;Every organization or group's history affects their perspective on the future, or at least it should, and I think that was a part of our history,”; said Landon.

Dobelle left the university after a bitter split with the regents. He was originally fired; the firing was then rescinded after mediation, and Dobelle was given a $1.3 million settlement.

Dobelle's original contract with the university, negotiated in secret, called for him to receive about $2.2 million in severance for the early end of his employment.

This is the first time the university has asked for public input and made the names of the finalists public, according to a UH spokeswoman.

Claire Van Ummersen, vice president for the Center for Effective Leadership at the American Council on Education, said there are pluses and minuses to an open search.

It can limit the pool of applicants if candidates do not apply because they have to go back to their positions if they are not selected. But an open process could also help the person selected have a better chance at success.

“;It helps to build a support base for the new president,”; she said. “;If you don't know a person, it takes a certain amount of time to get to know a person and see how they operate.”;

Klaus Keil, chairman of the UH Manoa Faculty Senate, said he likes the open process.

“;It's a healthy way of doing it,”; he said. A closed process “;is like marrying a wife you've never met before,”; Keil said.