By Patricia Daddona
PBN Staff Writer
By Patricia Daddona
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee Tuesday recommended that Clark Greene, chief of staff for the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, temporarily fill in to spearhead the search for an interim commissioner of Higher Education.
At the same time, Eva-Marie Mancuso, the governor’s first choice for the commissioner’s post, withdrew her request for an ethics waiver after her nomination was challenged for potentially violating ethics rules.
If approved by Board of Education, Greene would, in his capacity at Office of Higher Education, oversee the day-to-day operations, design a process by which the Board of Education will conduct a search for a full-time commissioner, and support the Board in its legislatively mandated requirements to develop a new governance and administrative structure for higher education.
“Clark Greene is one of state government’s talented employees,” Chafee said in a statement. “I am pleased that Clark has agreed to take on this challenge should the Board approve. It is imperative that our institutions of higher education have someone in place guiding the transition mandated by the legislature while the board conducts its search for a full-time Commissioner.”
Mancuso, chairwoman of the newly formed Rhode Island Board of Education, will continue in that role after withdrawing her request for a waiver of rules from the Rhode Island Ethics Commission.
Watchdog group Common Cause had challenged Mancuso's recommended appointment earlier this month, PBN has reported, saying it would be a violation of the "revolving door" ethics provision because elected or appointed officials are prohibited for one year from serving in paid positions requiring approval from the body on which they serve.
“Eva has done a great job of chairing the Board, and I want her to continue in that leadership position,” Gov. Chafee said. “She selflessly has embraced the task, and brought a vision for the future and an understanding that building a vital educational system is a critical tool in strengthening Rhode Island’s economy. I am grateful that she will continue her hard work on behalf of the students of our state.”
Without explaining the withdrawal of the request for the waiver, Mancuso said in a statement, “I hope that we can now work quickly and effectively with assistance from Clark to implement the legislatively mandated changes.”
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Gist has agreed with the governor's recommendation, if the Board approves this proposal, Chafee said.
“Loaning” high-level state employees between agencies has already been done during Chafee’s administration successfully, he said. He cited the example of Lisa Holley of the State Police, who helped revamp the state Motor Vehicle Department, and two other state employees who served the Economic Development Corporation and Rhode Island Public Transit Authority.
Greene has led the state’s $50 million Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant, garnering praise for coordinating the grant’s activities across five state agencies. He also participated in the team that developed the winning $75 million Race to the Top proposal, Chafee said. Race to the Top is a national competition that awards funding to support K-12 education.
Greene also has worked on development and implementation of the Rite Care program, and had participated in the state’s welfare program and development of the state’s first child care program.
Greene said he is confident he can “assist the Board in quickly and efficiently implementing the changes required statutorily so that the process is well under way when a permanent Commissioner is appointed.”