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Candidate to head UH was emerging star at UC


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POSTED: Monday, June 08, 2009

By all accounts, M.R.C. Greenwood was a rising star in academia—a top scientist in the field of obesity and nutrition and the first woman chancellor at the University of California Santa Cruz. Later, as provost for the UC system, she was one step away from becoming the first woman president of one of the nation's most prestigious public university systems.

               

     

 

M.R.C. GREENWOOD

        Pronounced “;Marci,”; M.R.C. stands for Mary Rita Cooke
       

» 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; UC-Santa Cruz chancellor from July 1996 to April 2004; elected to the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academies; fellow, past president and board chairwoman of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

       

 

       

Then, five years ago, she made what she now acknowledges was a mistake—participating in the hiring of a long-time friend and business partner for a high-paying position in the UC system office.

The ethical conflict of interest still haunts her as the University of Hawaii Board of Regents considers hiring Greenwood on Wednesday as the next UH president.

“;I think at the time, just about everybody believed she was going to be a president at some point,”; said Larry Hershman, retired UC vice president for budget.

Interviews with former and current colleagues provide some insight into Greenwood's leadership and management style and how she may deal with the $100 million in budget cuts over the next two years at the University of Hawaii.

Those who have worked with her describe Greenwood as smart, hard-working, prepared, articulate, accessible and personable. Her leadership style is to listen to all sides and then act, decisively, colleagues said.

; During her eight years at UC Santa Cruz, Greenwood managed a sometimes unruly faculty and student body through a period of expansion, cultural change, and, ultimately—after the dot com bust in Silicon Valley—budget cuts.

Between 2001 and 2004, UCSC cut $17 million from its $408 million budget.

Greenwood hired a consultant and formed 16 teams to look at consolidating business, information technology, resources, management and academic functions before deciding where to cut.

“;She had a process,”; said UCSC Vice Chancellor Tom Vani. “;They did it in a very inclusive way.”;

Most of the cuts fell in administration as human resource and IT functions were consolidated. But, Vani said, they minimized layoffs through attrition and eliminating open positions—a luxury UCSC doesn't have now during its current round of budget cuts.

Research at UCSC still grew during that period, in part because of a $330 million NASA-university affiliated research center that Greenwood helped negotiate.

But not all of the campus' expansion plans were as successful. During the boom years, the UCSC Extension leased expensive offices in Santa Clara, the heart of Silicon Valley, just over the Santa Cruz mountains from the main campus, to offer classes to high tech workers.

The extension made money and grew rapidly until about 1999. After the high-tech bubble burst, the extension school was about $15 million in the red at the time Greenwood left UCSC.

“;The magnitude of it, just didn't hit until it was deeply in debt,”; said Alison Galloway, a former Academic Senate chairwoman, now vice provost of academic affairs at UCSC.

Galloway said administrators were focused on the budget cuts on campus and didn't pay enough attention to the extension school, which is supposed to be self-supporting.

The expansion in research, new faculty and the larger student body also contributed to a culture change at UCSC, a school founded in 1965 amidst the redwood trees in the Santa Cruz hills that offered an alternative to traditional UC campuses.

The larger school was formed around smaller undergraduate colleges and letter grades were optional. Instead, professors gave narrative evaluations.

But as enrollment grew and new professors were hired, letter grades became mandatory, a change that didn't sit well with some of the original faculty.

“;The idealistic founders lost out to the people who wanted it to be normal,”; said William Ladusaw, a linguistics professor at UC-Santa Cruz and now dean of undergraduate education.

By most accounts, Greenwood was a prolific fundraiser and gave back to UCSC—more than $100,000 in personal donations over the eight years.

Galloway said Greenwood also helped smooth out sometimes contentious relationships with city officials over campus and student housing growth.

Greenwood was also called to Sacramento, the state capitol, to work with legislators.

“;She enjoyed it. There are very few people who like the political process,”; Hershman said. “;I think that was one of the reasons she was selected as provost because she would be effective with the legislature.”;

Her promotion to provost in 2004 brought with it the beginnings of controversy.

Her $380,000 salary was nearly $100,000 more than her predecessor and the UC Regents were not told about a $125,000 relocation incentive payment—details that came out in a series of San Francisco Chronicle stories investigating compensation for top university officials.

The stories also revealed that Greenwood owned a rental property with a friend, Lynda J. Goff, who Greenwood hired from UCSC for a $192,100 job in the UC system office.

An internal investigation found Greenwood had violated the UC conflict of interest policy by not disclosing her ownership of the property and that she should not have participated in hiring Goff.

Greenwood resigned shortly after the investigation began and is now director of the Foods for Health Initiative at UC-Davis.

Former colleagues say they are still mystified by Greenwood's actions because it doesn't fit with the person they knew.

“;I can't reconcile it. I think she is a woman of great integrity and intelligence and outstanding leadership and she did this really dumb thing,”; Ladusaw said. “;I feel like hitting my forehead and saying, 'What was she thinking?'”;