UH president to retire

University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood will retire in September, an announcement from the university said Monday.

Greenwood’s reasons for making the decision were “personal, health-related and family-oriented,” the news release said.

She told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that her retirement wasn’t related to the athletic department’s botched attempt to hold a fundraiser concert headlined by Stevie Wonder. State lawmakers criticized how Greenwood responded when it became clear that the university was scammed out of a $200,000 deposit for the concert.

She plans to take an unpaid leave upon her retirement and will return to her tenured faculty position after that. She was hired in 2009 after a national search and took office in August of that year.

Plans for replacing Greenwood, 70, will be under discussion by the Board of Regents in the coming months, the news release said.

“This university has accomplished an amazing amount in a rather short and extremely challenging time,” said Greenwood. “As the economy shows signs of improvement, I am proud of how well we’ve coped with the greatest recession in modern memory and serious state spending restrictions.

“Through the support and hard work of our faculty, staff and friends we’ve been able to accommodate the largest student enrollment in history, streamlined course availability and transfers, incurred no lost days of instruction and maintained a very robust research portfolio.”

In responding to her retirement announcement, Board of Regents Chairman Eric Martinson called Greenwood’s accomplishments “outstanding.”

“The university’s reputation has advanced nationally and internationally, the strategic goals set by the Board of Regents have advanced, and she helped navigate the university through one of our nation’s and state’s most severe recessions.”

He lauded her for her work with bettering cooperation with the business community, her stewardship of major systemwide projects, including the University of Hawaii Maui College campus center, and the progress on projects such as the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope atop Haleakala.

“She will leave behind an extraordinarily solid legacy, and we look forward to her continuing service as a faculty member to the University of Hawaii,” said Martinson.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a news release that he was “impressed with her commitment and her desire to give her very best effort on behalf of the University of Hawaii” from the moment he met her.

“She brought a wealth of experience and determination,” he said.

“As for the university and the presidency, I will be contacting the Board of Regents and the wider university community as we chart our next steps.”

Greenwood thanked the faculty, staff, administration and students for four years as UH president.

“I have never known a better or more willing group of individuals,” she said. “I am proud of what we accomplished under very difficult circumstances. I am looking forward to my retirement to once again be ‘grandma’ and to write, teach and do some policy work.”

Greenwood is an internationally known researcher and scientist, a policy leader in higher education, the incoming president of the Association of Public Land Grant Universities and a former associate director and consultant to the White House Office of Science and Technology under President Bill Clinton, the UH news release said.

She took over at UH?from David McClain, an economics professor and administrator who had stepped in after the Board of Regents fired Evan Dobelle.

Dobelle was fired for cause in 2004 amid concerns about sloppy administration, management of university funds, and his hiring of friends and former colleagues for high-paying jobs at UH. He later reached a $1.8 million settlement with UH and now is president of Westfield State College in Massachusetts.

* The Associated Press contributed to this report.