University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood will retire in September to spend more time with family and address health issues, she told the Star-Advertiser today.
Greenwood, who just turned 70, said her decision was not related to fallout from last year’s botched Stevie Wonder benefit concert.
“My reasons for deciding to retire are really related to personal issues, my health and the fact that I just think it’s the right time in my life for me to, as they say, move on,” Greenwood said.
Greenwood stepped into her role as the university’s 14th — and first female — president in August 2009, and her contract (after an extension in 2011) was set to expire on July 31, 2015.
Her contract calls for her to be paid $475,000 annually.
Greenwood said she informed Board of Regents Chairman Eric Martinson today of her decision to retire.
She said the details of her departure and the search for her successor must still be ironed out.
Over the last year, Greenwood has fought off hefty criticism in the wake of the bungled Stevie Wonder concert, which was to be a benefit for the cash-strapped athletic department but ended up costing the school more than $200,000 in an alleged scam.
A Senate inquiry into the missteps of the concert fiasco led to wider concerns over university governance, operations and accountability. Lawmakers raised issues with everything from executive salaries at UH to the role of the president versus UH-Manoa’s chancellor.
At several points Greenwood appeared ready to resign — or be terminated.
Her lawyer sent a letter to the Board of Regents in October, which was later withdrawn, that asked for a $2 million settlement for her to resign and suggested she had legal cause to sue.
A month later, though, the regents issued a statement supporting the president and pledging to “work together” after months of turmoil.
At her offices at UH’s Bachman Hall today, Greenwood said that the last year was challenging, “but not the hardest I’ve spent politically.”
“I actually have loved this job,” she said. “But I’m not so young anymore, I’ve got some health problems and there are some issues with my family that I need to be dealing with. So I’ve had to weigh these things and look at why did I come to Hawaii? What was set out as the things that the Board (of Regents) would like me to accomplish while I was here? What have I done? What more could I get done in another year or two?”
Greenwood said that after taking a one-year unpaid leave, she will probably return to a tenured faculty position at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.
Before coming to UH, Greenwood was provost and senior vice president for academic affairs for the University of California system. She also served as chancellor of the University of California Santa Cruz from 1996 to 2004.