But Crew, 62, barely lasted a year before he bolted Oregon in June to become president of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, N.Y. He left plenty of unfinished business and little to show for his time in Oregon.
As it turns out, he didnât spend all that much time here.
Records obtained by WW under the state's public records law suggest the governor and the Oregon Education Investment Board left Crew unsupervised in his high-profile job. He spent much of his tenure jetting to conferences and private speaking engagements in faraway locales such as Alaska and the Bahamas, often flying first class.
On Feb. 13, for example, his calendar shows Crew tried to charge the state $336 for a town car to shuttle him to and from Portland International Airport and his Salem home for a trip to Washington, D.C. On that trip, Crew also charged the state $350 to have his ticket upgraded to first class.
He didnât get away with the extras. On Feb. 21, Angelique Bowers, a state accountant, flagged the expenses as improper. âWe are unable to reimburse an employee for airfare other than coach class,â Bowers wrote to Crewâs assistant. She also said the state would not pick up the car tab.
Crew has not yet responded to WW for comment.
A spokeswoman for Gov, John Kitzhaber's office says the governor took steps to address issues with Crew's travel. "As soon as we saw it was a problem the issue was raised with Dr. Crew," says Kitzhaber spokeswoman Amy Wojcicki.
She said the state does not plan to seek any reimbursement from Crew. "We have come to an agreement on Dr. Crewâs separation with the state," she said. "Beyond the terms of this agreement we are not aware of any additional expenses that the state would seek to reimburse."
From Crewâs calendar and time sheets, itâs difficult to determine when he was working and when he was not.
Crewâs resignation agreement with the state, dated July 3, refers explicitly to that confusion.
âOEIB had some uncertainty regarding proper reporting of travel expenses incurred by employee, and employee asserted that all travel expenses paid by OEIB were probably an obligation of OEIB,â the agreement states.
His calendar shows Crew was out of the state at least 63 days in the year he worked here. Crew took 32 vacation days, and was out of the office another 17 days for furloughs, sick leave and personal days.
In all, Crew took at least 17 trips out of stateâsome paid for by taxpayers, others by groups paying to hear him speakâthat took him to such cities as New York, Santa Fe, N.M., and Las Vegas.
Records show, for example, that on Thursday, May 9, Crew flew first class to San Francisco to give a speech to a group called Partners in School Innovation. The next day, he flew from San Francisco to the Bahamas for a Friday evening kickoff for an institution called the Parent Academy at Lyford Cay International School. He gave a keynote speech in Nassau the next day.
Crewâs time sheets show he reported both days as work days. Yet neither the San Francisco nor Bahamas event had any apparent connection to his job. If Crew was in fact working on those trips, state ethics laws prohibited him from traveling first class, even if the host organization paid his expenses. And if he wasnât working, state law prohibited him from claiming he was on official business.
This spring, Kitzhaber transferred an experienced state administrator, Lisa Van Laanen, into Crewâs office to inject some discipline. But she was unable to figure out how Crew spent his time.
âI am unable to confirm the accuracy of Rudyâs time and do not feel like I am able to sign authorizing these hours,â Van Laanen wrote on his time sheet June 17. âMaybe it can be routed to the [governorâs] office for signature?â
Crew was supposed to shake up Oregonâs struggling education system and implement Kitzhaberâs education reforms, which call for 100 percent of students to graduate from high school and 40 percent to graduate from college by 2025.
âHe has the courage to do whatâs right, even if he needs to ruffle a few feathers to do it,â Kitzhaber said when he introduced Crew on May 30, 2012.
But Crew had little impact on the stateâs education system. Lawmakers funded only a fraction of his biggest initiativeâ$120 million for regional teachersâ academiesâand little has noticeably changed in the year he was here.
Key lawmakers noticed his absence. Crew was scheduled to meet weekly with the co-chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education.
âHe missed at least 50 percent of our scheduled meetings,â says Rep. Betty Komp (D-Woodburn), one of the co-chairs. âThe governorâs staff was doing its best to keep the OEIBâs goals moving forward, but their leader [Crew] was missing.â
WW intern Sara Sneath contributed to this story.