HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple returned to his office at Hawaii Hall Monday but declined interviews two days after Hawaii News Now first reported he's being fired.
Apple told Hawaii News Now he couldn't say anything at the direction of his lawyer, who is negotiating with UH officials about what kind of a settlement he'll receive to be let go from his job just two years into a five-year employment agreement that pays him $439,008 a year.
Sources said those negotiations could wrap up within the next week or so.
His employment allows him to move to a high-paid biochemistry professor position with tenure in the UH medical school.
Many of the deans who report to Apple attended a regularly scheduled meeting at midday but they all declined to comment on the situation, except for Maenette Benham, dean of the School of Hawaiian Knowledge.
"Me and the other deans probably are learning about this process at the same time that you're being told about it, so we're trying to figure it out just like you are," Benham said.
UH Manoa student government groups said they will fight to stop Apple from getting fired and are planning a protest and perhaps a sit-in on his behalf.
"We're not OK with this and we really do support Chancellor Apple," said Kelly Zakimi, who is the vice president of the UH undergraduate student government group, ASUH. She said Apple is popular with students.
"They feel like he's very competent. He's one of the most, like I said, available administrators on campus. So we don't want to lose him," Zakimi said.
The president of UH Manoa's 4,000-member graduate student organization said her organization will also protest Apple's ouster.
"I think, unlike many of his predecessors, he has been an extremely strong advocate of the student interests," said Michelle Tigchelaar, UH Manoa GSO president. "He has shown up at numerous of our meetings, he has met one-on-one with several members of our leadership, he is always interested to hear what are our concerns."
Among those who might become interim Manoa chancellor once Apple leaves the post is vice chancellor for academic affairs, Reed Dasenbrock, who applied for the chancellor's post two years ago when Apple got the job instead.
Sources said Apple found out from UH President David Lassner that he was going to be let go more than a week ago.
Apple has cut some department budgets, proposed consolidating some departments and instituted a hiring freeze in an effort to streamline campus spending.
Sources said Apple was told one of the reasons for his firing was that he's grown unpopular with some deans.
Another reason for his ouster, sources said, is that Apple had "lost the confidence" of some community members, because he tried unsuccessfully to fire the controversial UH Cancer Center Director Michele Carbone last fall.