Former UH faculty leader: Greenwood's testimony earns a "D"

Former UH faculty leader: Greenwood's testimony earns a "D"
Published: Sep. 25, 2012 at 10:49 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 26, 2012 at 2:37 PM HST
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UH President MRC Greenwood
UH President MRC Greenwood
Public Health Professor Bob Cooney
Public Health Professor Bob Cooney

MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The former chair of the University of Hawaii Manoa Faculty Senate said the performances of UH President MRC Greenwood and Board of Regents Chair Eric Martinson before a special State Senate committee Monday were "terrible" and did not restore confidence in the university.

Greenwood faces a potential no confidence vote by members of the Manoa flagship campus' Faculty Senate later this fall, so the reaction to her testimony by key campus leaders is important.

Greenwood testified for about two and a half hours before the Senate Special Committee on Accountability Monday looking into UH's Stevie Wonder concert fiasco.

Public Health Professor Bob Cooney spent last school year as chairman of the UH Manoa's 86-member Faculty Senate that represents about 2,200 professors and teaching professionals on the campus.

The 28-year faculty veteran was the only UH Manoa professor to watch the entire six-hour briefing in-person at the capitol Monday.

"I was very disappointed in her [Greenwood's] performance. I thought it came across as very unsure of herself, very petulant," Cooney said. "I was surprised when she said she'd been humbled by this because I didn't sense humility."

Asked to grade Greenwood's testimony before the senate panel, Cooney said, "I think, generously, a D. It didn't paint the university in a good light."

Cooney gave UH Board of Regents Chairman Eric Martinson an even worse grade, an F, calling his performance "pathetic."

Cooney said Martinson gave the impression that the regents didn't know what was going on and don't read their own policies or adhere to them.

"They're constantly consulting their lawyer, they were unsure of their lawyer.  There was a sense that they were spinning things a lot," Cooney said of both Greenwood and Martinson.

Martinson told senators that Greenwood's job is not in jeopardy because of the concert fiasco.

But Cooney said it's time for her to be replaced.

"MRC's a very smart lady who should have been very successful, but I think she isolated herself too much from the people in the trenches, the faculty and students," Cooney said.

Cooney gave former UH Athletics Director Jim Donovan a grade of B for his testimony.

"With Jim Donovan, I mean he made mistakes but he was forthright, and he didn't need a lawyer there to back him up and spoke honestly," Cooney said.

Donovan's lawyer, David Simons, attended the hearing with Donovan but, unlike Greenwood and Martinson, Donovan did not ask him for help while he responded to questions from the senate panel.

Cooney said the briefing also highlighted "meddling" by regents and top UH officials into Manoa campus affairs, something he's been complaining about in the Faculty Senate over the last year.

"The improper interference of the system administration with affairs of Manoa.  People don't know who their bosses are.  It was very obvious Jim Donovan had so many bosses, and he couldn't possibly please all of them," Cooney said.

Bonnyjean Manini, the current chair of the Faculty Senate, said she was in meetings at work and only caught a few minutes of Greenwood's testimony online, so she was unable to assess how UH leaders did Monday.  She plans to watch video recordings of the Senate hearing and read transcripts, she said.

Kristeen Hanselman, associate executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, the union that represents nearly 4,000 UH faculty across the state, said she spent about three and a half hours watching the Senate hearing in person.  She declined to comment about her impressions of UH officials' testimony.

"We are watching to see how the process plays out," Hanselman said.

UH said an accreditation team that visited UH last week and its preliminary report spoke very highly of Greenwood's leadership and the direction of the university.

Greenwood has nearly three years remaining on her contract that pays her $475,000 a year, plus a $60,000 housing allowance. For the past two years she has taken a voluntary 10 percent pay cut, while other university executives took voluntary pay reductions and unionized UH employees endured mandatory salary cuts. Greenwood's contract, which also includes a free parking place and use of a $150,000-a-year protocol fund, expires July 31, 2015.

The contract said if she's terminated without cause, the UH must pay her a year's worth of salary or through the end of the contract, whichever is less.

UH is also obligated to offer her a tenured faculty position.

An expert on obesity and diabetes, she was a professor of nutrition and internal medicine before going into university administration.  She previously served as chancellor of UC Santa Cruz between 1996 and 2004.

In 2005, Greenwood resigned her post as academic provost of the entire University of California system, a departure that came after the Oakland Tribune reported she had hired a friend with whom she had owned property.

A UC investigation found Greenwood broke university conflict-of-interest rules by hiring the woman in 2004 for a temporary post, the Oakland Tribune reported.  A search committee later recommended the woman be appointed to another administrative post that Greenwood supervised.

Appointed UH president in August 2009, she is the first woman to hold the position.

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