UH pays $800K to recruit top executives

Replacing MRC Greenwood likely to cost U.H. & taxpayers a high price
Published: May. 8, 2013 at 10:43 PM HST|Updated: May. 8, 2013 at 11:33 PM HST
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State Sen. Sam Slom
State Sen. Sam Slom
Sanjay Mirchandani
Sanjay Mirchandani

When it comes to picking MRC Greenwood's successor, the University of Hawaii will have to reach deep into its coffers.

The university paid nearly $110,000 to a mainland head hunting firm when it selected Greenwood more than five years ago. Those costs will is expected to soar this time around.

"It's outrageous. We shouldn't be spending all that money," said state Sen. Sam Slom.

"What we're doing is punishing the students through higher tuition. We're punishing the taxpayers."

Over the past several years, the UH has shelled out nearly $800,000 to Mainland executive search firms to recruit more than half a dozen top executives, including:

-- Nearly $110,000 to hire Greenwood in 2008;

-- Another $103,000 to lure Tom Apple from the University of Delaware to become chancellor of the UH Manoa campus;

-- And $67,000 to recruit Ben Jay from Ohio State University to become UH's athletic director.

The school officials say UH policies require them to conduct a nationwide search to get the most qualified candidates.

But critics say the mainland head hunters haven't turned up good hires recently. They say the money could be better spent on educational programs.

"Let's take a look at what the searches have brought us. They brought us MRC Greenwood and before that they brought us (former UH President) Evan Dobelle and they brought us nothing but trouble for the university," Slom said.

"Yes, I think we should look closer at home."

Local human resources experts predict that it will be even more expensive to hire Greenwood's replacement since the recruiting process this time will be more in depth.

"The screening process is rather long process," said Sanjay Mirchandani, owner of Talent HR Solutions.

"To actually find a person of that level ... you have to look at hundreds of emails and do extensive background checks and interviews."

The UH Board of Regents has not said how it will conduct the search for Greenwood's successors. That will likely be discuss at the regents' meeting next week.

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