POSTED: 2:52 p.m. HST, Nov 7, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 9:11 p.m. HST, Nov 7, 2012
Hawaii's senior senator is expressing support for embattled University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood.
In a Nov. 6 letter to the secretary of the Board of Regents, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said he was "saddened" and "deeply worried" over the negative news surrounding his alma mater, the University of Hawaii.
Inouye said his efforts to obtain funding for UH have been "particularly successful under President Greenwood's leadership." He cited initiatives in astronomy, oceans, biosciences, informatics, innovation and disaster reduction in the Asia-Pacific region.
In regards to the failed Stevie Wonder concert, Inouye said "No doubt there were serious failures in the internal checks and balances of the university system which must be corrected to ensure such an embarrassing episode is not repeated.
"Unfortunately, harsh comments were made in frustration and anger that cannot be easily taken back. All parties bear some responsibility for ratcheting up the rhetoric. I most respectfully suggest that the parties put their arrows back into their respective quivers."
The Board of Regents is meeting behind closed doors this afternoon to discuss Greenwood's employment contract and the legal settlement that led to former athletic director Jim Donovan being reassigned to a newly created marketing job in the UH Manoa Chancellor's office. The job pays $211,200 a year for three years.
Donovan's reassignment came after Greenwood suspended Donovan and Stan Sheriff Center manager Rich Sheriff with pay following UH's loss of $200,000 in an apparent Stevie Wonder concert scam.
The board is scheduled to hold a public discussion and vote on the settlement. They could also reach a decision on the future of Greenwood's employment at UH. Greenwood's contract sets her salary at $475,000 a year, plus a housing allowance and other benefits.
Inouye urged the regents to consider the consequences of ending Greenwood's contract.
"Time is needed to mend the fences and to begin to restore a measure of trust, and a working path forward," Inouye said. "I would urge you to balance the costs, both financial and reputational, that would come with an abrupt change in leadership."