Tom Apple has been dismissed as chancellor of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, his attorney, Big Island lawyer Jerry Hiatt, said Wednesday night.

He was offered a tenured faculty position in the chemistry department for an 11-month salary of $299,000. The university is also offering him a total lump sum payment of $100,000, including attorney’s fees.

Rumors surfaced last weekend that Apple, who was hired in 2012, was being dismissed as chancellor — three years before his employment agreement was set to expire. He made about $439,000 a year overseeing the university’s flagship campus.

Tom Apple UH Manoa Chancellor

Dr. Tom Apple, the University of Hawaii at Manoa chancellor.

University of Hawaii at Manoa

It’s unclear why exactly he was let go, though some faculty members speculate it has to do with Apple’s conflicts with the UH Cancer Center and its director, Michele Carbone. Apple’s controversial approach to the university’s budget deficit could also have been a factor.

Apple’s term was supposed to last through 2017 but was contingent on annual satisfactory performance reviews. According to a letter to Apple earlier today from UH President David Lassner, Apple’s performance was deemed “less than satisfactory” — a conclusion that Lassner apparently discussed with Apple in person July 18.  Apple was offered a tenured faculty position in the anatomy, biochemistry and physiology department at the university’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, effective this September, but he declined the deal, instead taking a job as a chemistry professor in the College of Natural Sciences.

Here’s a statement from Apple released by his lawyer, followed by the termination letter and the settlement offer:

Late this afternoon President Lassner handed me the termination memorandum attached below. Under the memo I was terminated from my position as Chancellor for alleged unsatisfactory performance in that job.

I believe I have done my job to the best of my ability and in service to the true needs of this institution. I had previously provided Dr. Lassner with my rebuttal of his allegations of unsatisfactory performance.

When I was handed the memo I asked President Lassner, one more time, if there was any chance that he might reverse his intention to terminate me as Chancellor and I reiterated my willingness to continue to serve. I was told this was out of the question.

I was originally given a one hour deadline to accept a final settlement offer from the University, a copy of which is also attached below. This time was later extended to the evening. If I did not accept the University last offer I would have been forced to take a position in the medical school, reporting to Dean Hedges. That would have created untenable conditions under which I would have had to leave the University entirely. I therefore directed my attorney to accept the last offer–simply in order to protect my family’s livelihood.

I am extremely disappointed about this action, as there is a lot of work left to do here at Manoa.

I want to express my very sincere thanks, aloha and appreciation to the students, staff, faculty and administrators here on campus, and to the members of the larger community throughout the state, who have worked so tirelessly with me, and have accomplished so much over the past couple of years. I am in awe of their dedication to make UHM a better, stronger university, and am very grateful for their support.

Though I have been forced out of my post as Chancellor, I do remain willing to serve this fine University if given the opportunity to do so.

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