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UH regents approve Donovan deal, but mum on Greenwood

By Craig Gima

LAST UPDATED: 10:28 p.m. HST, Nov 07, 2012

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents voted today to approve a legal settlement reached in August that gave former athletic director Jim Donovan a new $211,200-a-year marketing job in the UH Manoa Chancellor's Office.

The approval came even after the regents heard details of a critical audit of the athletic department during Donovan's tenure over the last three years.

The audit revealed lax fiscal controls and policies for the distribution of money and the collection of donations while the department's deficit climbed from $9.6 million in 2010 to $11.3 million on June 30 of this year.

The audit did not cover the Stevie Wonder concert debacle and the loss of $200,000 in an apparent scam.

“We need to put this affair and its aftermath behind us,” said a regents’ written statement after the decision. "We have learned from this matter and will make sure we have safeguards and guidelines in place so it does not happen again."

The regents also reiterated its commitment to university autonomy and vowed that they will not be influenced by "undue pressure" from inside or outside of the university.

The statement contained no mention of the board's discussions on the future of embattled UH President M.R.C. Greenwood.

The board met for nearly three hours behind closed doors this afternoon with attorney William McCorriston and another lawyer from his firm before going into a public session to approve Donovan's settlement. They met for another 45 minutes before ending the meeting and authorizing the written statement.

The board hired McCorriston under a $25,000 contract to assist regents with their discussions on Greenwood's employment contract. McCorriston assisted the university eight years ago with a settlement agreement that allowed former UH President Evan Dobelle to resign and paid him more than $1 million after the board initially fired Dobelle for cause.

In their public session today, the board approved Donovan's new job as a legal settlement by an 11-to-4 vote. Regents John Holzman, Benjamin Kudo, Thomas Shigemoto and Jan Sullivan voted no.

The board also voted to establish a task group to look into ways of providing more oversight of UH athletics spending.

Donovan had been put on paid leave in July after the athletic department lost $200,000 in an apparent scam involving a bogus Stevie Wonder concert. He hired attorney David Simons, who threatened to sue the university for defamation.

UH attorneys and Simons agreed to a settlement in which Donovan would leave his $240,000 a year job as UH Manoa athletic director. That job would have ended in March when his contract ran out. Donovan agreed to take a $211,200 newly created marketing job in the Chancellor's Office for three years. His initial salary was reduced to $200,640 because of a temporary pay cut for all senior executives in light of budget problems.

The Attorney General's Office issued an opinion that the regents violated their policies by not approving Donovan's new job as a legal settlement.

On August 22, the board met for more than seven hours behind closed doors to review the failed Stevie Wonder concert and its aftermath, but they did not vote on the settlement. Instead, they issued a statement supporting UH President M.R.C. Greenwood and UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple and expressed their support for the decision to reassign Donovan.

The board's lack of public discussion prompted the state Senate to hold hearings on UH accountability.

During the hearings, regent's vice chairman James Lee told senators that the board did not formally approve the settlement because UH lawyers determined that only the $30,000 paid to Donovan's attorney was considered a settlement.

The state Attorney General's Office disagreed and said the board should have considered Donovan's salary as part of the settlement.

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kainalu wrote:
Gutless. Apparently, Jim's lawyer has something. Any other institution, and he's gone. Looks like Greenwood is going to take all the heat, and I wonder if she was ever a Stevie Wonder fan?
on November 7,2012 | 04:41PM
bigislandkurt wrote:
MRC is as good as Gold....she 'aint goin' no where. Uncle Dan saves the day!
on November 7,2012 | 05:20PM
KeithHaugen wrote:
And you can bet the BOR coverup of Donovan also includes a provision that he cannot be investigated over the misappropriation of donations to the Athletic Department during his watch. That was disclosed yesterday in a TV news story. Donovan's attorney must be one smart cookie, or the BOR, Greenwood, Apple et al are all very gullible.
on November 8,2012 | 06:18AM
Venus1 wrote:
Time to move on!!! The longer this goes on the more damage to the University and Hawaii!! I hope Donna Kim is reflecting on her ' Grand Standing'!!! Sometimes it is better to bring 'light ' instead of heat!!!
on November 7,2012 | 04:54PM
Bdpapa wrote:
on November 7,2012 | 07:25PM
csdhawaii wrote:
OW! I rolled my eyes so hard they are stuck in the back of my head and smh (shook my head) so hard I think I now have whiplash. Can I sue UH for a $200K a year job?
on November 7,2012 | 05:28PM
HOSSANA wrote:
Who's going to evaluate the BOR?? If MRC goes, there is no question that every member of the BOR should go and the person that appointed the BOR should be reprimanded and held accountable.
on November 7,2012 | 05:52PM
nontaister1 wrote:
They (The Board of Regents) ,clearly,don't know what they are doing. Greenwood is going to come out of this smelling like a rose. After all is said and done ( and $2million later), we'll be back at square one. Business as usual.
on November 7,2012 | 07:15PM
KeithHaugen wrote:
The stench at UH-M (my alma mater) is getting worse, but the BOR seem to think that drawing it out over a long enough period willmake it go away. NOT! It stinks. And the coverup of Donovan's ("I know nothing") is so obvious.
on November 8,2012 | 06:20AM
ejkorvette wrote:
Upright walking Monkeys. Prison is where they belong.
on November 7,2012 | 10:57PM
Get rid of them all, there all over paid anyway.
on November 8,2012 | 04:57AM
nitpikker wrote:
remember the chairman and vice-chairmen of the board of rejects!! if you do business with them, do so at your own risk!! their priorities are sooo out of whack!!
on November 8,2012 | 05:30AM
sidneyho wrote:
Hilarious. Board approved JD setlement after he gets the job. So this is officially a settlement after the fact. Then the BOR says we will not be pressured by outsiders, a diversion of the issue and their dysfunctional managment of UH What a joke
on November 8,2012 | 05:53AM
Bernachelle wrote:
$211,200 per year for a marketing position after a massive, major mistake that reeks of incompetence? Seriously? Meanwhile, in my UH Biology lab class last night, we were unable to carry out an experiment safely and many of us suffered very minor burns because the college couldn't afford the proper racks and tongs for heating elements over a burner. So we used our bare hands. Maybe Jim Donovan could spare a few bucks for some safety equipment?
on November 8,2012 | 06:11AM
honopic wrote:
Maybe attorney David Simons would take your case pro bono and sue UH for your injuries, since he made $30,000 just for threatening to sue them in the Donovan case. At the very least, the students in your lab class who were burned should get a full refund of this year's tuition and fees. That would be a drop in the bucket compared to all the money they've wasted on the Wonder Blunder.
on November 8,2012 | 08:06AM
Bernachelle wrote:
We should be so lucky...They'd probably fight us tooth and nail. They take care of their own while students are left to foot the bills and all we get in return is a sub-par education. Go Bows!
on November 8,2012 | 01:14PM
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