University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood announced on Monday that she’s retiring from the presidency in September, two years before her contract expires.
She said the reasons for making her decision are personal and health-related.
She plans to take an unpaid leave upon her retirement, and plans to return to her tenured faculty position after that.
She has a resume that includes being a scientist, a professor, and a college administrator.
In 2009, the UH Board of Regents hired her to lead the UH as its president.
Now, with two years left on her contract, Greenwood says she’s retiring in September.
Here’s what Greenwood said to KHON2’s Kathy Muneno just a few months ago, when she asked if she would stick around when her contract expires in 2015.
“Oh boy, that’s a really hard question to answer but not because of the stress or any of this. That’s more related to where I am with my family my age, how much energy I still have at that point,” Greenwood said.
Greenwood, who just turned 70, said in a statement she decided to retire to focus more on her health and her family.
Richard Mizusawa is the president of the student body at UH Manoa.
“I was kind of surprised by the timing of her retirement but I feel the reasoning is justified,” Mizusawa said.
Greenwood’s announcement comes only months after the Stevie Wonder concert fiasco, and the Senate investigation into UH.
Senate President Donna Mercado Kim led the Committee on Accountability and said, “It’s the best thing for the university. I believe it’s what the university needs. Look at some of these accountability and transparency issues.”
Sen. Sam Slom was also on the committee.
“I’m not surprised. Some of us thought it would come this summer. Several months ago, I called for her forced retirement. I think it’s a good thing for the university,” said Sen. Sam Slom, (R) Hawaii Kai, Kahala, Aina Haina.
In a statement sent to the UH Ohana, Greenwood said, “I have never known a better or more willing group of individuals. I am proud of what we accomplished under very difficult circumstances.”
In response to the announcement, the UH Board of Regents Chair Eric Martinson said in a statement, “The university’s reputation has advanced nationally and internationally…she helped navigate the university through one of our nation’s and state’s most severe recessions.”
The Board is scheduled to meet next week Thursday for its monthly meeting.
The regents will likely discuss their options such as whether to appoint an interim president or to launch a search for a new one.
“I think it would be interesting to look more into hiring local faculty staff or admin, but again whatever the search committee decides I’m sure will be best for the system,” Mizusawa said.
Gov. Abercrombie said he plans to contact the Board of Regents regarding the next steps.
He praised Greenwood and he personally wishes her good fortune in the years to come.