University of Hawaii President MRC Greenwood flew to Washington DC last week to attend inaugural festivities and meetings with Hawaii’s congressional officials.
After a whirlwind of events that included promoting the idea of a Presidential Center at the University dedicated to President Barack Obama, Greenwood went to the Obama’s inauguration on Monday before returning to Hawaii on Tuesday.
Greenwood’s travel is sponsored by the University, but spokesperson Lynne Waters said the cost cannot be made public until Greenwood completes a travel report.
Just hours before Greenwood left for Washington DC, she was under fire at a Senate Ways and Means hearing for her lack of transparency and initiative as well as the University’s excessive spending, which is contributing to students’ tuition rising by as much as 141 percent over 10 years.
Interaction between lawmakers and Greenwood became contentious, particularly after Greenwood tried to stop Senate President Donna Mercado Kim from questioning University of Hawaii-Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple about comments he made during a meeting with faculty and students over $200,000 the University athletic department lost to scammers promising to hold a Stevie Wonder fundraising concert on campus.
After the so called “Wonder Blunder” fiasco, Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, who heads the Senate Committee on Accountability, initiated a series of investigative hearings into University’s fiscal and management practices in the fall of 2012. Her committee issued 18 recommendations for the University administration and Board of Regents to implement and asked for a number of documents the University pledged to provide.
Kim told Hawaii Reporter after Thursday’s three hour hearing: “Given the amount of salary the President, Chancellor and some of the top administrators, I was very disappointed with their responses and attitude.”
“When asked about the status of the 18 recommendations made by the Committee on Accountability, the President only referred to the Regents task force and did not bother to address any of the outstanding items. When pressed for an update, the President basically punted. If the President and Chancellor would like to put the ‘Wonder Blunder’ behind them, they should provide the Senate with all of the information requested of them from the hearings and the Committee’s report,” Kim said.
Greenwood pledged on Thursday to get Senators the financial figures and other information they requested, but Senators were skeptical because they still have not received documents and figures requested during the Fall hearings.
“It should not be a great mystery to find out when we ask questions about personnel, and about salaries, and about all of these additional payments. ..the University has been too caviler about trying to dodge specific financial questions,” committee member Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai said.