HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - University of Hawaii at Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw will be paid nearly $300,000 for a ten- month sabbatical after she steps down from her position this summer and she will land another high paying UH job next year.
While UH President M.R.C. Greenwood defended the move, it was criticized by UH students, the faculty union and others.
Sources told Hawaii News Now Hinshaw's sabbatical proposal generated a lot of debate behind closed doors during the executive session of a UH Board of Regents meeting Jan. 19.
The Regents who opposed the move either left the meeting before the vote or voted "yes" so they would not embarrass Hinshaw, sources said.
Hinshaw has been chancellor of UH's Manoa campus for the last five years, overseeing more than 5,000 employees and about 20,000 students.
She is stepping down from her $344,880-a-year- job at the end of June. Starting July 1, the UH will pay her $287,400 for a 10-month sabbatical. That comes out to $28,740 a month, the same salary she earned while she was chancellor.
(Click HERE to read the memo from Greenwood to the Regents asking them to approve Hinshaw's sabbatical)
Through a spokesman, Hinshaw declined to comment for this story. UH Board of Regents Chair Eric Martinson, who is the executive vice president of The Queen's Health Systems, also declined an interview.
Greenwood said a paid leave like this simply follows UH policy -- and industry standards -- for departing administrators.
"Most deans, most chancellors, most presidents who have served and have done their job and have improved the campus would be offered the opportunity for some period of professional leave," Greenwood said.
(To watch an extended excerpt of Keoki Kerr's interview with UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, click here)
UH Board of Regents policy reads: "Executives serve 'at will' of the appointing authority and have no job tenure as do civil service employees. They are therefore provided the option of compensated professional improvement leave at the end of their tenure. Most avail themselves of this provision."
"This provision allows for the granting of leave with full executive pay for up to one year," according to the policy. "It also requires, as a condition of this one-year leave, that the employee return to university service as faculty or other function, at the regular salary for that position. This is to insure that the executive does not take the year's salary and leave the university with no ensuing value."
UH Manoa students had similar reactions to Hinshaw's sabbatical pay.
"Oh my God, it's so much money!" exclaimed Katherine Nesbit, a UH sophomore marine biology major from Chicago. "I know she does a lot but, come on! Ugh. It baffles me."
"It seems to me that a lot of people are making all these sacrifices while the people at the top are not necessarily bearing their share of the burden," said UH senior Will Shontell of Kohala, a senior majoring in geography.
"Wow! That seems a little excessive. Why are they doing this," asked Ryan Daughterty, a mechanical engineering major and UH senior from Kona.
In a deal approved by the UH Board of Regents at their Jan. 19 meeting at Kauai Community College, once Hinshaw completes her sabbatical next year, she'll go to work at UH's John A. Burns School of Medicine.
The medical school will pay Hinshaw $292,188 a year to fill a tenured faculty position she was awarded by a previous Board of Regents when she was hired for the chancellor's job in 2007.
(To read Hinshaw's original appointment memo from then-UH President David McClain to then-Regents Chair Kitty Lagareta in 2007, CLICK HERE.)
In a memo to the Board of Regents asking for approval of Hinshaw's sabbatical and the medical school job, Greenwood wrote, " …in consideration of her outstanding academic and research record and in the context of compensation paid other School of Medicine faculty members, Dr. Hinshaw will assume the duties of her 11-month tenured faculty position at an annual salary of $292,188."
Hinshaw is an expert in viruses, primarily the flu, and she has conducted research for more than 25 years at other hospitals and universities before arriving in Hawaii five years ago.
J.N. Musto, who heads the 3,600-member UH faculty union, opposed Hinshaw's sabbatical and was the only person to speak against it publicly at the Regents' meeting in January.
"I do not believe that you end an administrative career by then getting a paid leave of absence of any type. I just don't think it's necessary. I don't think it's called for," Musto said.
Musto said the UH cannot justify Hinshaw's high pay during her sabbatical.
"Where's the value added to the institution or the state or the public resource? These are substantial amounts of money," Musto said.
Hinshaw is being granted a sabbatical after five years of work at UH, when faculty can't qualify for sabbaticals until after seven years of service. The professors' union contract allows them to receive half their pay for a year-long sabbatical, while Hinshaw is continuing to be paid at her full chancellor's salary.
Asked about the high level of pay for Hinshaw's sabbatical, Greenwood said, "I don't think people should be steamed. It is a policy that she would be paid this amount of money for this period of time. And so I don't think the amount of money should be a shock to anyone."
Musto said, "I am not saying these things in a reflection of Virginia Hinshaw."
"And I don't want this to seem as some sort of personal attack against her. It is not. This is a principle that i would apply to anyone holding a similar situation," Musto added.
Tom Robinson of UH's Graduate Student Organization submitted a letter to the Regents expressing concern about Hinshaw's sabbatical, according to minutes of the Jan. 19 meeting.
The UH said Hinshaw will fulfill several tasks during her nearly year-long sabbatical, including:
- Developing a plan for a mini-medical school to promote healthy aging.
- Creating mentoring programs for medical school faculty.
- Lecturing on viruses.
- Advising the medical school on biomedical research grants.
- Enhancing communication and development efforts at the medical school.
"She's going to be developing some very innovative programs and this will give her an opportunity to do that work," Greenwood said.
But State Rep. Mark Takai (D-Newtown, Waiau, Pearl City, Waimalu), who has questioned the need for a separate UH Manoa chancellor's office, is critical of Hinshaw's sabbatical.
"I think the question isn't whether she's going to do it and get paid. It's why was it done in the first place," said Takai, a member of the State House Higher Education Committee who has two degrees from UH and served as UH Manoa's student body president as well as editor of its student newspaper.
"It just doesn't make sense from my perspective and I think a lot of other people, to provide a sabbatical in addition to a job that's going to be waiting for her that pays more than $200,000," Takai added.
To put Hinshaw's sabbatical pay in perspective, if the UH chose to use the $287,400 elsewhere next school year, the university could add 63 courses taught by part-time lecturers, something students said would be a better use of the funds.
"I know a lot of my friends, they can't graduate on time, because the classes are just, they get filled very quickly and they're not offered every semester anymore, so it would definitely help out to put some funds into that," said Will Shontell, a UH Manoa senior.
Greenwood called those "false comparisons."
"When we have to make the choices of making the courses available, we've been doing a pretty good job of that, I think," Greenwood said. "And to say 'Well, I have a better idea of how to spend the money of the university than the chancellor, the president or the Board of Regents does.' I just don't think it's a particularly useful comparison."
Hinshaw's sabbatical pay will cost enough to absorb the tuition of 33 in-state students for a year.
"I feel like the money could get used other places, especially. Even for facilities on campus," said Francesca Koethe of Mililani, a UH Manoa sophomore majoring in zoology.
Students said that money could instead go to spruce up aging campus facilities.
The money could also pay for UH Manoa's main library to open weekends or 24 hours a day the week before exams, students said. Hamilton Library is now closed weekends and has reduced hours because of budget cuts.
In an interview Friday, Hawaii News Now reporter Keoki Kerr asked Greenwood this question: "Lots of people on this campus believe you wanted to replace Chancellor Hinshaw and so this is essentially paying her some money to step down. Is that true?"
"No," Greenwood said. "It's not true that I wanted to replace her."
"This is a highly qualified person who has been with us for five years. She has years and years of experience. She did many of the things that she was asked to do, not just well, but extremely well. And I don't people should resent that. And I don't think it's fair to say she doesn't deserve a transition here," Greenwood said.
Greenwood denied that UH purposely scheduled the Regents' Jan. 19 vote on Hinshaw's sabbatical right after the holidays when few people would be paying attention and when the board met on Kauai, away from the watchful eye of the media, faculty and other observers on the Manoa campus.
"Are you suggesting a conspiracy theory," Greenwood said to a reporter after he asked whether the timing and the location of the meeting were part of a deliberate attempt to make sure the sabbatical proposal flew 'under the radar.'
"No, there was no deliberate attempt (to hide the proposal)," Greenwood said. "It was just the normal course of business. That's when it came up. That's when it needed to be dealt with. And it was on that agenda."
The Board of Regents is scheduled to vote on Greenwood's recommendation to hire Hinshaw's successor Thursday. Greenwood is asking the Regents to approve the hiring of University of Delaware Provost Tom Apple to be the next UH Manoa chancellor. According to the UH Regents' agenda, Apple would be paid $439,008, nearly $100,000 more than Hinshaw's current salary.
The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources said the median salary for chancellors at universities with a size and budget similar to UH is about $418,000.