BY JIM DOOLEY – “Inappropriate political pressure” threatens the independence and academic accreditation of the University of Hawaii, President M.R.C. Greenwood warned faculty members this afternoon.
Her remarks came as the Manoa campus faculty senate was considering whether to issue a vote of no confidence in Greenwood, but the professors delayed the vote following her appearance.
Greenwood’s statement mirrored remarks she made last month to state lawmakers when she was called before them to testify about UH management, fiscal and personnel issues.
A special committee of state senators held two days of hearings after the Manoa Athletics Department lost $200,000 in a cancelled fundraiser and Greenwood’s administration removed popular UH Athletic Director Jim Donovan from office.
Greenwood said she was pressured to restore Donovan to his old job.
“It was made very clear to me that if we did not accede to this improper pressure, we would be subject to public hearings and the University’s budget might be in danger,” Greenwood said today.
“I did not accede to this demand and the reason I did not was to protect the University, its faculty and its independence,” Greenwood said.
“Whether you like the decision that we made or you hate the decision we made, whether you’re a fan of the previous athletic director or not, I believe the faculty needs to consider standing with us on this decision in refusing to acquiesce to inappropriate political pressure,” she said.
Greenwood said she’s confident in the decisions she has made “even though it has been at considerable cost to me and my family.”
Because of her decision to remove Donovan, Greenwood said, “I’ve been subject to a campaign of false statements, the university has been diminished and our board of regents has been dishonored.”
Greenwood declined to elaborate on her remarks after the meeting, telling reporters, “I said all I have to say.”
Last month, she told the senate committee that pressure to put Donovan back in the job came from state Senate President Shan Tsutsui and House Speaker Calvin Say.
The board of regents met last week and will re-convene tomorrow for closed-door discussions about
Greenwood’s future at UH.
Her $425,000-per-year contract runs through mid-2015.
She has retained a private attorney and made it clear today she intends to fight for her job.
“I look forward to the continued support of the board of regents. I plan to continue the excellent work with all of you (that) we’ve accomplished together. We’ve done many wonderful things,” Greenwood told the professors.
She asked the faculty to “join with me to support the independence of this institution and to kept it free from personnel decisions that are dictated by politicians.”
If independence is lost, “it is unlikely to be regained by any future president,” Greenwood said.
Although Greenwood couched her situation as one imperiled by outside forces, there is clear
unhappiness inside the university with her management style and decisions.
While a committee of the faculty senate recommended delaying a vote on the no-confidence motion, it also noted numerous differences that academics have with Greenwood and her team.
A list of those issues was contained in a memo to the faculty:
• The lack of regular consultation with the faculty, through shared governance, erodes the University of Hawaii’s credibility in the community, with the legislature, and puts our hard fought accreditation with WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) at risk.
• The development of the 2013-2015 Biennial budget without consultation with faculty and seemingly, UH-M administration, illustrates the lack of consultative process.
• The lack of consultation with faculty on matters that will directly affect the academy, such as the hiring of 50 new high profile research faculty, without regard for the impact these positions will have on Schools, Colleges and Departments and individual faculty.
• The lack of consultation with UH-M faculty regarding the “15-to-Finish” program which might impact faculty workload, academic support services and departmental dynamics. While the CAB supports the principle of shortening the time to graduation, the lack of discussion is disturbing.
• The excessive expenditures of hiring external legal and public relations firms at a significant cost and loss of precious resources perhaps better served in support of the instruction and research mission of the University, is troubling.
While Greenwood was speaking today, Prof. Noel Kent, who asked for the Greenwood no-confidence vote, silently walked down one side of the meeting room with a hand-printed sign that said, “We can do better.”