One day after he was fired as chancellor of the University of Hawaii’s flagship Manoa campus, Tom Apple spoke to KHON2 about the decision and how he feels about UH president David Lassner.
Apple was surprisingly upbeat throughout the interview, but the decision to fire him clearly stung a man who says he fought to the very end to keep his job.
Tom Apple says he is still the chancellor — at least until the next Board of Regents meeting in August — but he will have no authority to sign critical documents, including contracts.
That authority will rest with Lassner, who says Apple’s less than satisfactory job rating led to his decision to fire him.
Read more: Tom Apple’s letter of evaluation from UH president David Lassner (.pdf)
“To be honest, I didn’t want this interview to be about me,” Apple told KHON2. “What happens to Tom Apple is not important. What’s important is what happens to the university.”
“It is not okay what happened last night,” said Rebekah Carroll, vice president, Graduate Student Organization. “It is not okay what happened in the last week, and it’s certainly not okay what has happened in the last several years at UH Manoa.”
Manoa faculty and students staged a rally early Thursday at the steps that lead to Apple’s office. Apple refused to appear because he did not want to grandstand.
He is also reluctant to criticize the president’s decision.
“If you had a chance to address the people who participated in the rally and now the sit-in, what would you tell them?” KHON2 asked.
“I would say thank you. Thank you very much not only for supporting me but for supporting Manoa and the direction Manoa is moving in,” he replied.
“Obviously I didn’t want to step down,” he added. “I think we are doing a lot of great things. It’s with a heavy heart. I’m not ready. I want to stay in the position and keep the momentum going.”
But he is going — on to something he has done in the past.
The timeline of events that led to his ouster began on July 3, when he was given a summary of his job performance for the past year.
He was then given a formal letter on July 18 that stated his performance was less than satisfactory.
On July 19, the regents approved a fall-back position that would at least allow Apple to have a tenured faculty position.
Finally, a settlement offer was given on July 29 to Apple’s attorney that originally called for Apple to take a job at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.
But a final agreement was struck on Wednesday that would give Apple a lump sum payment of $100,000, as well as a $299,000 salary as a professor with the chemistry department, a position that he says he is more comfortable with.
KHON2 was told the president hopes to present the name of an interim chancellor to the regents at their next board meeting scheduled for August 21.