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UH president bemoans 'public spectacle' over Apple

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 4:12 p.m. HST, Jul 29, 2014

University of Hawaii President David Lassner released a statement Tuesday apologizing that a reported attempt by him to remove Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple has become "a public spectacle."

As of Tuesday afternoon, UH says Apple is still chancellor of the flagship Manoa campus.

Lassner said it is his job as president "to hold the executives who report to me accountable for their performance and the effectiveness of their leadership," but that he has "maintained confidentiality both to provide the chancellor the privacy and dignity that any of us would want for ourselves in a difficult personnel situation."

Apple was hired in May 2012 at a $439,008 annual salary to replace former Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw. Talk of him being pushed out intensified over the weekend, and he hired Hawaii island attorney Jerry Hiatt to represent him in the dispute.

"Unfortunately, many statements are circulating and the privacy I had hoped for has been compromised with a mix of truths and rumors from many sources," Lassner said. "I regret that my attempt at maintaining privacy and dignity has been perceived by some as lacking transparency and accountability."

Hiatt has said that Apple's latest efforts to try to rein in spending at Manoa have rankled some deans and directors, who have called for his removal. Hiatt says Apple has a five-year contract through mid-2017.

Earlier this month Apple announced a plan to save $10 million in each of the next two years by imposing a hiring freeze and suspending salary increases for nonunion employees until further notice.

Apple told his deans and department heads that programs that ended the 2014 fiscal year in the red will have their negative balances applied against their 2014-15 budgets.

"The financial conditions that have developed at UH Manoa over the past two years must be addressed with thoughtful leadership and deep collaboration," Lassner said. "I am committed to embracing this broader challenge with effective campus leadership in a considered, open and collegial manner with the faculty, students, and staff of the UH Manoa campus and our stakeholders across the state of Hawaii."

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