Today, representatives of the Associated Student of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (ASUH) and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Graduate Student Organization (GSO) headed to the State Capitol to deliver a letter to Governor Abercrombie requesting that a formal investigation be made into the firing of Chancellor Tom Apple.
The students said in a press release that they want the governor to investigate the “backdoor deals and meetings that have created corruption on our campus,” and “are asking for [the governor’s] help to end the ‘business as usual’ political situation that has allowed the campus to become a haven for cronyism at the highest levels.”
Students at the Mānoa campus have continued to press the President’s Office to reinstate Chancellor
Apple and promise that their protest will continue until Chancellor Apple is reinstated “with a mandate to clean up Mānoa.”
Here is the letter delivered to Governor Abercrombie today:
To: The Honorable Neil Abercrombie
Governor, State of Hawaiʻi
Executive Chambers, State Capitol
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi 96813
Dear Governor Abercrombie,
As an alumnus of the University of Hawaiʻi (UH), you must be as concerned as we are about the recent developments in the leadership of our University. On July 30, UH President David Lassner officially fired our Mānoa Chancellor, Tom Apple. The reasons for this firing were unclear, and student and faculty input was not solicited prior to this decision. To this date, there has been no official announcement from UH administrators to the Mānoa community about this firing and its rationale.
This abrupt and unannounced dismissal of our Chancellor has left the UH Mānoa community bewildered and outraged. Chancellor Apple is widely supported by students, faculty, and community members alike for his student-centered and transparent leadership. Facing a dwindling budget, Chancellor Apple was willing to open up communication with stakeholders of the Mānoa campus, and involve all of us in implementing the changes necessary to align spending with student needs.
Unfortunately this sudden removal of a UH administrator over summer break is not an isolated incident but part of a recurring pattern: in recent years the University of Hawaiʻi has had a revolving door of high-level administrators, most of them leaving between terms. Not only is this a very costly practice, it has also deprived our university of the stable, sustained leadership that it needs. A persisting lack of transparency and accountability has driven a wedge between the constituents of this university and its administration. Now the extensive media coverage of the firing of Chancellor Apple has brought to light that individuals external to the university, such as politicians and hospital CEOs, have been heavily influencing decision making on the Mānoa campus.
These kind of corrupt, behind-closed-doors dealings by our UH administration need to end. They are extremely damaging to our university and its reputation, drawing away attention from student and faculty needs and making it increasingly difficult to attract competent leaders.
The people of Hawaiʻi deserve to study at an institution that serves their needs, especially given the fact that their tax and tuition dollars are funding it.
You, as the Governor of the State of Hawaiʻi, have the power and the responsibility to clean up this mess. We implore you to take on this responsibility and heal our university, by taking the following actions:
1. Reinstate Tom Apple as the Chancellor of UH Mānoa
2. Clean the UH administration of corruption
3. Launch an official investigation into the firing of Chancellor Apple that includes key stakeholders such as the Mānoa student governance bodies (Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa and the UH Mānoa Graduate Student Organization), the Mānoa Faculty Senate, the Kualiʻi Council, and the Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homestead Assembly.
We kindly ask you to inform us of your response to this request by 2:00 p.m. on Thursday. August 7, 2014. We thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.
Kelly Zakimi, Vice-President ASUH
On behalf of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa Executive Committee
Michelle Tigchelaar, President GSO
On behalf of the UH Mānoa Graduate Student Organization Executive Council