Greenwood chosen as new UH president


POSTED: Thursday, June 11, 2009

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents unanimously selected M.R.C. Greenwood today to become the next UH president after current UH President David McClain steps down on July 31.

Greenwood, 66, will be the first woman to lead the 10 campus UH system.

Greenwood will be paid $475,008 a year, board chairman Allan Landon said. But if UH administrators, as expected, are asked to take a salary cut because of the state’s budget crisis, Greenwood’s salary would be reduced by the same percentage.

McClain makes $414,096. Landon said the regents raised the salary for the position because a salary survey showed that was the amount needed to attract top candidates.

In a written statement, Greenwood said: “;I am honored to be selected as the next president of the University of Hawaii. I know, and appreciate, how vitally important the university is to the state of Hawaii.”;

“;I am proud and very pleased to be joining such a fine institution, one that is and will continue to be, a vital resource to the state of Hawaii, the Asia-Pacific region and the worldwide community.

“;I know that I have much to learn about Hawaii and its rich cultural and linguistic heritage. I believe that to succeed in the future one must appreciate the lessons and values of the past.”;

Greenwood will start no later than Aug. 24, Landon said. She will have a three-year contract with options for renewal for each of the next two years. The position also comes with the use of College Hill, the UH president’s residence, a car allowance and expense account.

Landon said Greenwood was “the best fit” as president, citing her research background and experience in higher education.

He said he was confident she would be able to learn and adjust to the local culture here.

 Greenwood has extensive experience as a university administrator and is a noted researcher in nutrition and obesity, but she also comes with some ethical baggage.

She resigned as provost, the second highest position in the UC system, in the midst of a investigation into her participation in the hiring of a friend and business partner for a high-paying position in the UC system office. The investigation found that she had violated the university’s conflict of interest policy by not reporting her shared ownership of a rental property and that she should not have participated in hiring her friend. Greenwood has since admitted her mistake and apologized.

The UH president search committee said it vetted Greenwood and concluded that what happened was an inadvertent mistake.

Landon said the search committee and the regents were confident that Greenwood’s participation in the hiring of a friend and business partner were an uncharacteristic mistake and that she had learned from it.

“If anyone has ever gone through this, it is a painful, painful experience,” Landon said. “Dr. Greenwood brings the silver lining of that dark cloud with her.”

Greenwood is currently director of the Foods For Health Initiative at the University of California at Davis. She also served as chancellor at UC Santa Cruz for eight years and worked in the White House Office of Science and Technology during the Clinton administration.

McClain pledged his full support to Greenwood, who will become the 14th UH president and said he would work with her during the transition.

Public testimony before the regents went into executive session was split on Greenwood.

UH Professor David Ross, speaking for the Faculty Senate, said they trusted the faculty representatives on the search committee and “we do not believe we can do better than Dr. Greenwood by going down the list.”

Ross said the worst thing that could happen would be for the regents to appoint an interim president while the search continued. “We think the choice is clear,” he said.

But Doodie Downs, an information center specialist at Hawaii Community College, urged the regents to expand the search.

“One candidate left standing is not enough,” she said. “This is not a choice.”

Downs said she would like to see someone who understands Hawaii.

“This particular candidate has a shadow over her,” Downs added.

Several native Hawaiian faculty and campus organizations also testified against Greenwood’s selection, asking the regents to appoint an interim president from among the current UH leadership, who they said would better understand Hawaii and the budget cuts that are coming.

J.N. Musto, the executive director of the UH faculty union, pointed out that the regents are also being asked to approve Mike Rota as chancellor of Honolulu Community College. Rota, Musto noted, was not on the search committee’s list of finalists for the position.

Liana Hofschneider, former chairwoman of the UH Student Congress, told the regents Greenwood would be the right choice.

“More (candidates) doesn’t mean it’s better,” she said.