Supporters come to UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple’s defense

Supporters of Tom Apple are coming to his defense, saying he should not be ousted as Chancellor of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The head of the faculty union UHPA, J.N. Musto, said Apple was given notice by UH President David Lassner that Apple will be replaced.

Apple told KHON2 on Monday that he wants to keep his job.

Apple said: “We’ve a lot to do here in Manoa.  Thank you.”

KHON2 asked: “You want to stay?”
Apple replied: “Yes.”

KHON2 asked: “Did the president give you a timeline?”
Apple replied: “No.  I got to go.”

Apple referred most questions to his attorney Jerry Hiatt, who told KHON2: “…no decision has been made to remove Tom Apple as Chancellor of UH Manoa,” and that “…any decision to remove Mr. Apple would violate that contract — which has a three year term remaining.”

Musto said he considers Apple a friend, and that the Chancellor broke the news to him last week.

KHON2 asked: “What exactly did Chancellor Apple tell you about his situation?”
Musto replied: “Just simply that he’s been notified that they want to replace him as chancellor, or that the President wants to replace him as chancellor.”

KHON2 asked: “What was your initial reaction when you heard this from Chancellor Apple?”
Musto: “I have tremendous sympathy for the circumstances he has suffered from the time he set foot on the Manoa campus.  I think in some sense he was not doomed to fail, but it would’ve been very hard to succeed with the situation he was put in.”

“I don’t think he was given the resources and the authority to really succeed in this role,” Musto added.  “But I’m severely disappointed.  He is truly a good man.  He’s an academic, he cares about students — graduate students and undergraduate students.”

The Vice Chair of the U-H Manoa Faculty Senate is also disappointed.

Bob Cooney said in an email to KHON2: “Tom Apple has done an exemplary job as Chancellor during challenging times.  There is no justification for his dismissal and the University Leadership should immediately retract any statements made concerning his termination and honor his contract.”

Apple has three years left on his five year contract.  He makes $439,000 a year.  So if UH paid him out for the rest of his contract, he could possibly end up receiving an upwards of $1.3m.

Musto says it’s money that would come out of the UH’s general fund.

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim has been critical of the university’s spending, and she doesn’t think it’s a good idea to oust Apple.

“Part of it is the funding but more important is the disruption.  And what’s the reason?  I know Tom Apple has been trying to make some changes and it didn’t sit well with everybody but that’s the nature,” Kim said.  “I think this is a really bad time to be making the change.  I could see if Tom Apple was doing a really bad job and from everything that I have seen and heard I think he’s trying and he’s done better than I thought he would.”

Apple’s fallback position is teaching job at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.  He told Musto that he’s willing to go back and teach physical chemistry, but Musto doesn’t think that’s what he ultimately wants to do.  What he wants to do is stay on as chancellor.

KHON2 also spoke with UH Manoa students to get their take on the news that Chancellor Apple is being replaced.

“I’m just disappointed and shocked because although I don’t agree with everything the chancellor has done, I think as a whole he’s had a positive impact on the campus especially in regards to being transparent and focusing on student interests,” said Nick Chegnon, UH Manoa Sociology graduate student.

“We didn’t have input in the decision.  It was very sudden, and because we’re the core of the university we should have a say in whether the Chancellor stays or doesn’t stay,” said ASUH Vice President Kelly Zakimi.

KHON2 requested an interview with UH President David Lassner but the request was denied.

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