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Tuesday, October 21, 2014         

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College Hill has a vacancy

UH president Greenwood won't live in the home, but will use it for fundraising and entertaining

By Gene Park

POSTED:


University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood will not be moving in to the historical College Hill home as university presidents have for decades.

Greenwood said it will instead serve as the "University's House" for the next few years, expanding its function as a venue for fundraisers and entertaining.

College Hill, built in 1902 and listed on the state Register of Historic Places, has been under renovation since Greenwood's predecessor, David McClain, moved out in 2009.

Since taking the helm of the university system in August 2009, Greenwood has been receiving a $5,000 monthly allowance because she could not live at College Hill.

The renovation's initial price tag was about $272,000. But termite damage discovered later added $100,000 to the cost. Wood flooring in the dining room and living room had to be replaced, and the lanai floor needed shoring up.

"The advantage of having the house out of commission for a year was that it allowed everyone to think about what would really be the best use of the house," Greenwood said yesterday.

The university's Board of Regents and chancellors from other campuses may use the Manoa home for events on Oahu. Proposed guidelines on the house's use are still being worked out.

Greenwood said the university is gearing up for a "substantial" fundraising campaign. No fundraising goals have been set yet.

"You need to invite donors to come and discuss different things," she said. "There is no really first-rate venue on the Manoa campus. If you've ever visited Bachman Hall, it's probably not the place where you want to take your top-rated donors."

The university will ask regents to approve continuing Greenwood's housing allowance, which totals $60,000 a year. Universities nationwide typically offer such allowances for presidents. The City University of New York's president receives about $90,000 annually.

College Hill was built by Frank Atherton, an early-day Hawaii philanthropist and business executive. His children donated the 2.6-acre property to the university in 1963. The only restriction was that no alcoholic beverages be sold at the home.

Greenwood's annual salary is $427,507, including a voluntary 10 percent reduction. She has a three-year contract with the university.

In 2001, College Hill underwent extensive renovations, which cost about $1 million.

University officials said making the home compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act would mean more costs. Instead, the university will restrict events to the building's first floor.

Greenwood said this decision does not preclude future presidents, or herself, from moving into the home eventually.

"This is a new experiment," she said. "This is something we're going to do for a few years, and we're going to re-evaluate whether we're satisfied with the outcome."






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