Greenwood's UH golden parachute lands at med school

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii Board of Regents will vote next week on a proposal to pay outgoing UH President MRC Greenwood at an annualized rate of $300,000  for a tenured faculty post after she completes a year-long leave without pay. But the regents said she only wants to work in Hawaii about six months a year, so her salary would more likely be around $150,000 a year for a part-time job.

Greenwood announced in May that she will step down as UH president on Aug. 31 with two years remaining on her contract. She had come under fire for her handling of the failed Stevie Wonder concert and its aftermath, but claimed her decision to leave the president's post had nothing to do with what has become known as the Wonder Blunder.

An agenda for next Thursday's regents' meeting calls for the board to approve Greenwood's "leave without pay – personal reasons" from Sept. 1, 2013 to Aug. 31, 2014. The agenda item said she would then become a professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at a monthly rate of $24,470 a month. That comes out to $293,640 a year, roughly 61 percent of her current president's salary of $475,008 annually. She is also paid a $5,000-a-month housing allowance as president.

The ceiling for UH medical school salaries comparable to her experience ranking is $317,496, the UH regents said in a statement. "Her academic credentials are equal, if not more distinguished, than those of the highest paid faculty members and the proposed salary is the average of the top five salaries at the medical school."

The proposal before the board is pro rated as a monthly salary of $24,470, UH said.

"Dr. Greenwood has expressed her desire to work in Hawaii 6 months of the year, and elsewhere for 6 months. If that set of circumstances transpires, her salary would only be the monthly figure of $24,470 times the number of months she actually serves on staff at JABSOM," the UH statement said.

"The medical school salary to be determined for President MRC Greenwood is a decision of the Board of Regents and she did not request it," according to the written statement from the Board of Regents sent out late Friday afternoon, more than 24 hours after the agenda with her salary rate was posted online.  Hawaii News Now first reported Greenwood's salary proposal on its Thursday night 10 p.m. newscast.

Greenwood's contract said she "shall be granted tenure as a faculty member in the appropriate field of study and expertise and in the appropriate school within the university, upon appointment…" Greenwood is an expert in diabetes and obesity.

By getting a job at the UH medical school, Greenwood is assured a relatively high salary, since she must be paid commensurate with other professors in the school. Most UH medical faculty are medical doctors whose median pay is $129,367. The highest paid med school professor at UH takes home $344,880, according to salary research by the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, the faculty union.

As Hawaii News Now first reported Friday morning, Greenwood's $293,640 pay would be nearly double the 75th percentile of UH medical school salaries, which is $157,755, according to UHPA research.

Greenwood has said she is leaving the president's post to spend more time with her family and to attend to health problems. She has pointed to the building of the new UH West Oahu campus and the new UH Cancer Center building as among her accomplishments.

But her final year in office was repeatedly overshadowed by controversy and criticism over her handling of the Wonder Blunder.

Last fall, about three months after the Stevie Wonder concert was canceled, Greenwood's lawyer sent a letter to the UH Board of Regents, offering to step down if they paid her $2 million, more than four times her annual pay. She later rescinded the letter and stayed on, after the regents released a statement saying they planned to work collaboratively with her.

The UH regents rejected her lawyer's request for more than $50,000 in legal fees, sources said.

The State Senate held two days of briefings looking into the failed concert that showed UH executives and regents failed to follow their own procedures and policies in handling the concert arrangements and the aftermath of its cancellation.

During their 2013 session, state lawmakers decided not to fund about $22 million for faculty raises over the next two years. Legislators said UH could use planned tuition hikes to pay for the pay increases.

The legislature also passed a bill that removed the university president's authority to serve as chief procurement officer for new construction projects. Lawmakers also took away Greenwood's authority to serve as president of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii's board of directors.

Some legislators said UH routinely used RCUH as a way to pay for controversial hires, projects and programs not necessarily related to research projects. Last year, UH paid for a $25,000 public relations contract out of RCUH funds, for instance. The PR firm handled university response to the State Senate hearings on the Wonder Blunder, something unrelated to research at any university entity.

The UH Board of Regents approved spending up to $260,000 to hire a consultant to help a task force to come up with oversight and management improvements to assure the UH does not get victimized by a Wonder Blunder-type scam again. That means UH is spending more money studying itself than the $200,000 it actually lost when it sent a deposit for the concert to alleged scammers who took the funds and had no connection to Wonder.

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