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UH regents' discussion on Greenwood to continue next week

By Craig Gima & Mary Vorsino


LAST UPDATED: 11:03 a.m. HST, Oct 13, 2012

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents met behind closed doors for about 90 minutes this afternoon to discuss M.R.C. Greenwood's future as president of the University of Hawaii.

But board Chairman Eric Martinson would not say what was discussed in the executive session.

The regents issued a written statement after their closed-door discussion.

“The Board considers the agenda item to be a personnel and legal matter and is treating it with the corresponding confidentiality required,” the statement read. “The matter will be further discussed at the October 18, 2012 Board of Regents meeting.”

Before today’s meeting, Greenwood said she has enjoyed leading the university and wants to continue to serve.

"I'll stand on my record," Greenwood told the Star-Advertiser this morning. "I've really enjoyed leading this university. I continue to want to help the state of Hawaii."

Greenwood spoke to the Star-Advertiser during a UH graduation initiative summit at the state Capitol. 

The regents opened the meeting at 2 p.m. with public testimony. All 15 regents were present, as was Greenwood.

Business and community leaders testified in support of the UH president.

Mark Fukunaga, the president of Servco Hawaii and a former regent, said, "wherever you look, UH has made great progress under Marci Greenwood."

He urged regents not to bend to political pressure and "do the right thing" by retaining her.

Greenwood was also praised for her support of the 30-meter telescope on Mauna Kea and the development of the new UH campus in West Hawaii.

But Noel Kent, a UH ethnic studies professor, said, "I think the current president should be given her walking papers."

Regents received about 24 e-mails, letters and faxes before today’s meeting.

Keith Vierra, the senior vice president for operations of Starwood Hawaii hotels, wrote in support of Greenwood.

“The success of the University of Hawaii is critical to the future of Hawaii, and we as business leaders have a responsibility to give the university our full support,” Vierra wrote. “Dr. Marci Greenwood and her staff also need to be supported for the university to accomplish their goal.”

John Sweeney, the advocacy chairman of the Graduate Students Organization at UH-Manoa, said he is concerned about the financial health of the university because of the loss of $200,000 in the failed Stevie Wonder concert and the increase in highly paid administrators.

“It is evident that the dollars spent for ‘education’ need to go to those actually instructing courses, including graduate assistants,” he said.

Sweeney noted that graduate assistants haven’t had a pay increase since 2003, and that budget cuts have reduced opportunities to travel to conferences and the ability of departments to hire graduate students.

After taking testimony for nearly 30 minutes, the 15 regents went into a private executive session to discuss Greenwood's future.

Greenwood, who is under contract through 2015, earns $427,512 a year, plus a $5,000-a-month housing allowance.

She has faced hefty criticism and legislative scrutiny in the wake of a botched Wonder concert, which was to be a benefit for the athletics department but ended up costing the UH $200,000 in an apparent scam.

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