Was MRC ready to call it quits?

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Nov 13 2012 10:07:00 PM HST

MRC Greenwood has been caught up in the controversy that has surrounded the school ever since the concert scam was uncovered.

HONOLULU -

M.R.C. Greenwood has been caught up in the controversy that has surrounded the school ever since the Stevie Wonder concert scam was uncovered.

But was she calling the shots, or was she a victim?

A legal letter claims Greenwood blew the whistle on threats to the school.

Click here to read the entire letter.

During the Senate hearings into the failed concert and the settlement to reassign former Athletic Director Jim Donovan, many wanted to know if Greenwood was pressured to put Donovan back in.  Some asked if that pressure came from lawmakers or Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

"I want to make this very clear, the governor did not tell me to do something.  He talked about the political situation and gave me some advice about what my best actions would be," testified Greenwood in September.

But just a week later, a letter from Greenwood's attorney to the school's Board of Regents detailed direct pressure by the governor to abandon the settlement.  That was followed by, "A direct threat to Dr. Greenwood that if she did not reinstate Mr. Donovan to the AD position she could expect that the University's budget would be in deep trouble at the Legislature."

After hearing of the letter, Abercrombie's press secretary Louise Kim McCoy stated, "The Governor has always acted in the best interest of the state and the University. The Governor did not put any pressure on President Greenwood."

That is also what the Governor's Chief of Staff said during the Senate hearings.

"The governor would not make any pressure in that decision-making.  That's the President of the University's role.  It is not the Governor's role," testified Bruce Coppa.
 
The letter sent to the Board of Regents countered, "Mr. Coppa's testimony was completely untrue."

Because of the outside pressure, Greenwood's attorney stated she was not able to function independently, she was severely defamed and her contract was breached.

Further, because Greenwood reported the threats, she would be classified as a whistleblower and was entitled to financial damages from the defamation, emotional and physical distress and breach;  damages, her attorney estimated, would have exceeded $2 million.

An attorney for the Board of Regents said members had initially received the demand letter at the beginning of October.  The letter was later withdrawn by Greenwood's attorney Jerry Hiatt. 

On Tuesday, Hiatt said, "The UH President has been doing her job to protect the independence of the University and she expects to keep doing that for the rest of her term."

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