An investigation by the University of California's general counsel found that the system's former second-in-command, M.R.C. Greenwood, had violated conflict of interest rules in a hiring decision involving an administrator with whom she owned real estate, according to a report released Wednesday.
Nevertheless, the university announced that Greenwood will take a 15-month leave with an annual salary of $301,840 before starting a new, lower-paid faculty position at UC Davis. Greenwood, who resigned her provost position last month amid the investigation, will also receive a $100,000 research grant to assist "her transition to academia," according to an agreement released Wednesday. Then she will take a tenured UC Davis professorship paying $163,800 annually.
The probe looked at Greenwood's role in the promotion of her fellow real estate investor, Lynda Goff, who had been a professor at UC Santa Cruz, where Greenwood had been chancellor until 2004. Goff became an administrator in the systemwide academic affairs office and then director of the science and math initiative.
"Given their business relationship, Dr. Greenwood should not have participated in any way in decisions respecting Dr. Goff's employment," the report stated.
Another investigation looked into the creation of a job for Greenwood's son at UC Merced, finding no violation of rules but poor judgment that created the appearance of favoritism.
The reports were released amid concern by faculty over potentially excessive pay and perks for UC administrators. UC professors last month signed a petition calling for an audit of such practices, and the UC Regents this week announced steps to examine them, including the formation of a task force to study the issues.
UC Berkeley education professor Bruce Fuller called Greenwood's plight a "tragic tale," since she had been a well-regarded administrator. But the terms of Greenwood's pay package are likely to aggravate many professors who increasingly feel their research funding is inadequate. "What kind of distorted message does that send to UC faculty: Endeavor to violate hiring practices and the president's office will give you a hefty research grant?" Fuller said.
UC President Robert C. Dynes declined to speak to reporters about Greenwood. An e-mail from his office said he "accepted the findings."
Greenwood, 62, released a statement through Sigrid Bathen, a spokeswoman, saying "I regret that I made an unfortunate and inadvertent mistake" in handling her real estate partnership with Goff. (Bathen said Greenwood, not the university, hired her to handle media requests.)
The general counsel's report noted that Greenwood had dissolved the real estate partnership with Goff as Goff started her job in academic affairs in 2004. But that step was not sufficient to avoid the conflict of interest, according to the report.
The university's auditor also reported findings of a separate investigation into the hiring of Greenwood's son, James, at the UC Merced campus. The investigation found he was hired for a one-year internship paying $45,000 "without influence from Provost Greenwood."
University hiring rules "were not technically violated" because the position was an internship, the investigation found. But it noted the position was created for Greenwood, giving the appearance that open hiring rules were skirted.
The investigation report stated that UC Vice President for Student Affairs Winston C. Doby arranged to fund a position at UC Merced for James Greenwood after he had applied unsuccessfully for jobs at UC Davis and UC Merced. UC Merced had not previously requested the $60,000 in funds to cover the position's pay and benefits, and a job description was written tailored to James Greenwood's credentials, the report said.
The report concluded that Doby committed "a significant error in judgment," but did not recommend any sanctions against him. Two other hires involving Doby were also investigated, but UC spokesman Paul Schwartz said those findings were not ready to be released.
Meanwhile, Doby remains on paid leave.