Inside the search for UH's next leader


POSTED: Thursday, June 04, 2009

Editor's note: Dr. M.R.C. Greenwood of California is the lone finalist for the University of Hawaii president's job, with the withdrawal earlier this week of Dr. Robert Jones.

When the UH Advisory Presidential Selection Committee issued its final report to the UH Board of Regents Friday, it recommended both Greenwood and Jones.

”;Although the withdrawal of Dr. Jones is a disappointment, the committee continues to recommend Dr. Greenwood to the Board of Regents for further consideration,”; said committee Chairwoman Donna Tanoue Tuesday. “;Both candidates were highly recommended by the committee.”;

The 15-member Board of Regents holds a closed-door meeting on the presidential selection at 9 a.m. today at Bachman Hall. It was split with support for both candidates, said board Chairman Allan Landon.

Greenwood, 66, shown below, is the Foods for Health Initiative director at University of California, Davis, and chancellor emerita, UC-Santa Cruz.

Here are highlights of the search committee's vetting process and conclusions, with emphasis on the Greenwood findings. For a complete look at the panel's 23-page report to the UH regents, see


Summary: The vetting committee addresses Greenwood's integrity and the lack of local finalists

Two issues were consistently raised during the public interview process. The final report includes a comprehensive review of the UH committee's findings on these issues, which are summarized below.

Integrity Issues with Greenwood

The committee was aware of conflict of interest investigations involving Dr. Greenwood and conducted extensive due diligence into the matters. The committee concluded the ethics questions involved an isolated incident and should not raise doubts about Dr. Greenwood's personal integrity.

The committee based its conclusions on a thorough review of the facts and spoke to individuals who conducted the investigation, including her supervisors along with colleagues of Dr. Greenwood who were familiar with the situation. The committee also spoke extensively to Dr. Greenwood.

The issues are Dr. Greenwood's resignation as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, UC System, and the investigations by the UC Office of the University Auditor into two hiring matters. Specifically:

The first matter involved the hiring by UC Merced of Dr. Greenwood's 42-year-old son, James. The UC Auditor found she had no involvement in the hiring of her son. The conclusion: There was no impropriety on her part. She was exonerated.

The second issue was the UC System hiring of Dr. Lynda Goff, who owned an investment property with Dr. Greenwood. The partnership was dissolved, but the transaction was not properly recorded. The UC Office of the General Counsel concluded in December 2005, that given the improperly resolved business relationship, Dr. Greenwood should not have participated in decisions regarding Dr. Goff's employment.

Dr. Greenwood apologized for the inadvertent mistake, and the UC General Counsel James Holst, who has since retired, told the committee: “;The employment processes involved isolated circumstances; at no point in her university service was there any pattern of impropriety or ethical lapses.”;

Former chairman of the UC Board of Regents, John Moores, provided this statement to the committee: “;The issue of joint ownership of residential rental property was reasonably trivial in that it was financially immaterial to Dr. Greenwood, her business partner, and most importantly, to the University of California. The accident of the incomplete dissolution of a non-university related rental property partnership should not ruin a talented academic leader's reputation or interfere with future employment.”;

Dr. Greenwood resigned from her position as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, UC System, in November 2005. Her supervisor, president of the UC System, Dr. Robert Dynes, told the committee he did not ask for her resignation or pressure her to resign. Dr. Greenwood said she resigned because she could no longer support the president.

The committee received comments from a number of distinguished academic leaders. They provided compelling testimony expressing their high regard and confidence of Dr. Greenwood's character and integrity. They include: former chair of the National Science Foundation Dr. James Duderstradt, former president of the UC System Dr. Richard Atkinson, president of the Association of American Universities Dr. Robert Berdahl, Undersecretary of Education nominee Dr. Martha Kanter. A complete list with their comments are included in the Final Report, Exhibit 2. (Editor's note: See exhibit excerpts on next page.)

No Local Candidates

The goal of the committee was to identify the best possible candidates to lead the University of Hawaii through an open and transparent process that engaged the community.

The process involved contact with 600 individuals in higher education over a period of nearly seven months, assisted by a national search firm, Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates.

Members of the selection committee also contacted community and business leaders in Hawaii seeking nominations and input into the process.

The committee received 78 applications and interviewed 14 candidates from 10 states.

Among the pool of 14 were three candidates from Hawaii and a fourth with strong family ties to Hawaii. The committee identified the top three candidates who were clearly superior to the other candidates. It was the unanimous consensus of members to proceed to the public interview process, with Dr. Greenwood and Dr. Jones. The third candidate withdrew. The committee reconvened and decided not to add a lesser qualified candidate to the final list.

The committee believes this process was comprehensive and thorough. The committee has identified excellent candidates for consideration by the Board of Regents.

While no local candidate emerged, the committee feels strongly that Dr. Greenwood and Dr. Jones are academic leaders with the capability to build a strong team at the University of Hawaii. Both have distinguished academic credentials with specific areas of excellence. It is the committee's view that they can leverage that expertise into attracting grants to the university in these challenging financial times.

They also have demonstrated leadership and experience building relationships with elected leaders and the community. They are passionate educators who will make the university an even stronger institution than it is today.




Closer look: Greenwood's past conflict-of-interest “;mistake”; is explored

(This is excerpted from the search committee's report.)

The committee has conducted extensive due diligence regarding Dr. Greenwood and two hiring matters.

In 2005, the University of California system, through its General Counsel and University Auditor, investigated two hiring matters relating to: 1) The employment of Dr. Greenwood's son, James Greenwood, for an internship at the UC-Merced campus; and 2) The UC System appointment of Dr. Lynda Goff, a highly regarded academic leader with whom Dr. Greenwood had previously formed a business partnership.

The first issue involved the hiring by UC Merced of Dr. Greenwood's son, James Greenwood, for a one-year internship. Mr. Greenwood was 42 years old, with an educational background that included an M.S. of Divinity and B.S. in Human Environmental Science.

At issue was whether the UC System vice president for student affairs acted improperly in helping Mr. Greenwood secure his position. In the investigation report dated November 2005, the UC Office of the University Auditor found “;no evidence of direct job solicitation by Provost Greenwood on behalf of her son.”; Furthermore, the auditor found “;no evidence of communications between the provost (Greenwood) and (the vice president for student affairs) regarding James Greenwood's job search in general or UC Merced opportunities in particular.”;

The University Auditor found that “;(t)he hiring of James Greenwood was facilitated by funding provided by the vice president-student affairs, apparently acting on his own volition without influence from Provost Greenwood.”; In summary, the UC Office of the University Auditor found no involvement by Dr. Greenwood in the hiring of her son by UC Merced.

The committee has communicated with James Holst, Esq., the general counsel of the UC during Dr. Greenwood's service as UC provost and also during the period she was chancellor at UC Santa Cruz. Mr. Holst advised the committee that he was familiar with the circumstances of this matter, which had become an issue shortly before Dr. Greenwood's resignation. Mr. Holst advised that: “;Dr. Greenwood had no involvement in the funding of that position or the hiring decision. Nothing about that situation resulted from any impropriety on her part.”;

The second issue was “;whether Dr. Greenwood was involved in Dr. Goff's hiring to a greater extent than appropriate, given the possible existence of business interests with Dr. Goff, which may not have been properly and fully resolved in accordance with the University's conflict of interest requirements.”; The UC Office of the General Counsel issued the summary of findings dated Dec. 21, 2005, and found that Dr. Greenwood violated UC's conflicts policy. Given the improperly resolved business relationship, the UC Office of the General Counsel found that Dr. Greenwood should not have participated in decisions regarding Dr. Goff's employment. It further found that Dr. Greenwood should have reported more fully the business relationship on her annual statement of economic intent.

In 2004, Dr. Greenwood undertook efforts to avoid a conflict by dissolving the partnership agreement with Dr. Goff effective on the same day that Dr. Goff began a one-year temporary assignment in the Office of the President. But, her efforts did not resolve the issue because she had participated in decisions concerning the terms of Dr. Goff's appointment prior to that time.

In 2005, a UC systemwide search produced three candidates for the position of permanent director of UC's Science and Math Initiative. The search committee unanimously recommended Dr. Goff for the position. Dr. Greenwood accepted the committee's recommendation and was involved in formulating appointment terms and offering the position. Dr. Greenwood stated that at the time she offered Dr. Goff the career appointment, she did not realize she still had an ongoing business relationship with Dr. Goff, since their partnership had been dissolved in 2004. She thought she had terminated any further ownership interest in the investment property by instructing her title company to file a quitclaim deed removing her from the deed. She later learned that had not been accomplished by the time Dr. Goff commenced her career appointment. UC found that notwithstanding that “;Dr. Greenwood may have honestly intended to disentangle the business dealings prior to offering Dr. Goff either the temporary or career appointment, Dr. Greenwood failed to do so in a manner that avoided violation of the university's conflicts policy.”;

In a news advisory dated Dec. 21, 2005, and more recently, Dr. Greenwood expressed regret that she made “;an unfortunate and inadvertent mistake”; in her handling of the dissolution of the partnership and her efforts to avoid running afoul of UC's conflict policy. Dr. Greenwood has stated on that she “;honestly believed (she) had taken the necessary steps to dissolve the real estate partnership in keeping with the UC conflicts policy.”;

UC General Counsel Emeritus James Holst advised the committee that:

“;Dr. Greenwood has acknowledged her mistake in connection with the delay in dissolution of that business relationship and the failure to include in her disclosure statement all of the detail concerning it; she has accepted responsibility for those errors and apologized for them. I am aware of nothing to indicate that Dr. Greenwood intentionally sought to conceal anything in connection with those matters. The employment processes involved isolated circumstances; at no point in her university service was there any pattern of impropriety or ethical lapses.”;

On or about Nov. 4, 2005, Dr. Greenwood resigned from her position as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, UC System.

Committee members conducted a telephone interview with Dr. Robert Dynes, the president of the UC System and Dr. Greenwood's supervisor at the time of her resignation. Dr. Dynes made it clear that he did not fire Dr. Greenwood, nor did he ask for her resignation or pressure her to resign. Rather, he recalled turning the matters (relating to Dr. Greenwood's son and Dr. Goff) over to the UC Office of the University Auditor and UC General Counsel for investigation and asking those offices to complete the investigations expeditiously. At the time and still today, Dr. Dynes thought Dr. Greenwood made a mistake with respect to the Goff matter, but did not think the mistake was a “;big deal.”; Dr. Dynes told the committee members that, at the time, he had hoped that Dr. Greenwood would remain in her position. Instead, Dr. Greenwood tendered her resignation.

Dr. Greenwood told the committee that she “;resigned because I believed it was the honorable thing to do and I could no longer work with the president.”;

During the last half of 2005, a number of issues arose in the UC System related to compensation policy and practices that generated unprecedented media and legislative attention. The San Francisco Chronicle published a series dealing with non-salary compensation, exceptions to policy, university-provided housing, leaves of absence policy, and similar matters. ... The questions about the Goff matter and Dr. Greenwood's role in her appointment arose in the midst of that publicity and the legislative and public reaction to it. There is at least a question as to whether those circumstances would have generated the reaction that ensued had they arisen in isolation and not as another element in a long-running series of media questions related to other UC matters. ...

We take matters involving character and integrity seriously, as we do matters involving compliance with university policies. ...

...We believe there is only one significant issue with respect to Dr. Greenwood — that is, the hiring of Dr. Goff. Dr. Greenwood has acknowledged her mistake in connection with the delay in dissolution of the business partnership with a professional colleague and the failure to include in her disclosure statement all of the detail concerning it. She has accepted responsibility for her mistake and apologized for it. She has assured the committee that she has learned a lesson from this matter and would take steps in the future to avoid any such conflict of interest.