UH regents ready to OK Greenwood


POSTED: Friday, June 05, 2009

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents is likely to approve hiring of M.R.C. “;Marcy”; Greenwood as the first female president of the 10-campus UH system at a meeting Wednesday, board Chairman Allan Landon said yesterday.




Presidential pick


        The University of Hawaii Board of Regents will meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Campus Center Ballroom to discuss the selection of the UH president and other matters, including the selection of new chancellors for Honolulu and Windward community colleges. The meeting is open to the public, but the discussion on the president and chancellors will likely be held in executive session.

Regents originally planned to meet Monday but postponed it until Wednesday so more regents could attend.


Eight of the 15 board members met for four hours yesterday morning in executive session to discuss the next step in the selection process now that Greenwood remains as the only candidate. The University of Minnesota's Robert Jones withdrew earlier this week.

Landon ruled out, for now, the possibility of extending the search.

“;We don't intend to slow the process down,”; he said.

Landon said the regents did not make a decision yesterday to allow the other seven board members, some of whom are out of the country, to have a say.

The board chairman said the regents discussed whether they should deviate from the selection process, which started last fall. But Landon noted doing so could have “;unintended consequences”; for the university's reputation.

“;If we were to discard our (selection) process now, it would serve to tell the world something, even if it was not what was meant,”; he said.

Landon said the board also feels there should be some transition period before current President David McClain leaves on July 31, especially in light of the need to cut $100 million from the UH budget through the next two years.

“;The Board of Regents is very mindful of the university's economic circumstances,”; Landon said. “;We think maybe this is the most important time for strong leadership.”;

Greenwood, director of the Foods for Health Initiative at the University of California, Davis, was chancellor at UC-Santa Cruz and has experience with budget cuts there and when she worked in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Clinton administration.

But Greenwood also comes with some ethical baggage.

She resigned from the No. 2 leadership post at the UC system in 2005 amid questions about her approval of the hiring and pay package for a friend who co-owned a rental property with her.

In a report released Monday, the search committee said it interviewed the former general counsel for the UC system and people who worked with Greenwood and concluded the ethical lapse was “;an inadvertent mistake.”;

The regents are moving forward with the selection of a president despite calls from six state senators and the faculty union's executive director to widen the search. The senators called for a candidate with Hawaii ties to be picked.

The selection committee said that four people with Hawaii ties were among 14 candidates interviewed but that Greenwood and two other finalists were “;clearly superior.”; A third finalist dropped out before his name became public.

The UH president position has a salary range of between $450,000 and $550,000 and includes the use of the College Hill residence, a car allowance and an expense account.

Landon said the regents also discussed the selection process with a media consultant, Ho'akea Communications. Landon said he is paying for the services out of his own pocket because of the high profile of the presidential search. Landon said he wants to make sure he is doing the best job of representing the board and the university.

During the public portion of the meeting yesterday morning, David Duffy, a researcher with the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit at UH-Manoa, testified in support of Greenwood.

“;She's got a formidable track record,”; Duffy said, noting Greenwood's research background, fundraising ability and eight years as chancellor at UC-Santa Cruz.

“;This is one tough lady that still manages to work with people,”; he said.

Duffy compared Greenwood to Susan Boyle, the Scottish Internet sensation from the “;Britain's Got Talent”; show.

“;It seems like the outside world is trying to make the University of Hawaii into 'American Idol,'”; Duffy said. “;Maybe we need to give her (Greenwood) a chance to sing.”;