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Languages dean tapped as interim UH-Manoa chancellor

Bley-Vroman will serve 1 year if the regents approve

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 6:10 p.m. HST, Aug 14, 2014

University of Hawaii President David Lassner plans to tap UH-Manoa's dean for languages, linguistics and literature as interim chancellor for the flagship campus to replace Tom Apple, whom Lassner terminated last month.

Lassner will recommend Robert Bley-Vroman be appointed for one year effective Sept. 1 and be paid a $275,016 annual salary at next week's Board of Regents meeting.

In a university email blast, Lassner said "Bley-Vroman did not seek this position but has agreed to assume the interim chancellorship in service to his campus."

Bley-Vroman has been a Manoa faculty member since 1987 and previously was chairman of the UH-Manoa Faculty Senate Executive Committee. 

"He currently serves as Dean of the College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature where he leads a vibrant high-quality program of teaching and research while navigating the financial challenges faced by the campus on a daily basis," Lassner wrote. "I hope the UH-Manoa campus community is as pleased as I am that he has agreed to take on this role and will support his leadership over the next year as we work through both challenges and opportunities."

Apple, who was hired in May 2012 at a $439,008 annual salary, has said he was forced out by Lassner July 30 after an unsatisfactory job rating that Apple claims was rigged against him. He was two years into a five-year appointment.

In a rebuttal letter to Lassner that Apple released, he said he believed pushback from the dean of the medical school for funding cuts and his failed attempts to remove the director of the Cancer Center contributed to his ouster.

Lassner has said he was concerned about Apple's abilities to turn around a fiscal crisis at Manoa and inspire campus leadership to carry out strategic goals. He said what troubled him most was the financial crisis -- what Apple has characterized as a $20 million annual shortfall in operating funds.

Apple has agreed to be reassigned as a tenured chemistry professor at a $299,000 annual salary, effective Sept. 1. He also will receive a $100,000 lump-sum payout.

The firing has prompted protests from student groups and some faculty who have called on the regents to reinstate Apple.

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