MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Fired University of Hawaii Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple will be reassigned to a tenured faculty post that would pay him nearly three times as much as the average professor in UH’s chemistry department, but it’s unclear whether he will stay at the university.
"I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm in one of those places where this is a shock, so I haven't really thought about what the future is," Apple told Hawaii News Now Thursday, a day after he was handed a termination notice by UH President David Lassner.
Read Tom Apple's UH Documents:
Tom Apple letter to President Lassner
President Lassner's written Evaluation of Tom Apple
Tom Apple's rebuttal to UH President David Lassner
Apple's settlement with UH will pay him $100,000 and reassigns him to a tenured full professor position in UH's chemistry department , where he will be the highest-paid professor by far, earning $299,000 a year, while the average pay of the other 11 chemistry professors is roughly $108,000 annually.
Asked if he will return to the classroom, his answer was not clear.
"I love teaching chemistry," Apple said. "As you know, I taught it last spring. I taught some quantum mechanics and magnetic resonance and I love teaching, I absolutely love it, but I don't know. I don't know what the future holds."
U-H's settlement with Apple allows him to spend four months during the fall preparing to teach in the spring semester and he would have "significant flexibility" during that time should he seek other employment, "as he indicated to UH President David Lassner," the settlement offer Apple accepted from UH said.
Karl Seff, an emeritus chemistry professor who's been with UH for 46 years, welcomed news of Apple's potential arrival in his department.,
"It could be wonderful, we need faculty. We're particularly short in physical chemists and I'll bet he would be a good teacher, so I'm very hopeful," Seff said Thursday morning, moments after he sent an email to Apple welcoming him to the department.
Bill Ditto, the dean of UH's College of Natural Sciences said his school is four to five chemistry professors short.
"He is just a fantastic chemistry researcher and professor and so I have tell you that the chemistry department is very, very positive about him coming into the chemistry department," Ditto said.
Ditto said UH's 11 chemistry faculty members are spread very thin with 159 undergraduate majors and 7,100 undergraduates in chemistry courses each year. Comparably sized university chemistry departments usually have at least 18 to 20 faculty members, Ditto said.
Apple's nearly $300,000 salary would dwarf that of his future colleagues where the highest paid person now is the chemistry department chair, who's paid about $161,000 a year.
But Ditto, who said he wasn't consulted or involved in negotiations over Apple's future pay in the chemistry department, told Hawaii News Now Apple's pay would not be outrageous.
"The salary issue is one that's definitely within the range of what he would expect to get as a chemistry professor at any of the top 50 universities in this country, of which the University of Hawaii is one," Ditto said.
Ditto said the chemistry department would benefit from Apple teaching classes, re-starting research, mentoring students and helping to recruit new students and faculty.
The College of Natural Sciences saw a 67 percent increase in research last year, bringing in $13 million compared to about $7.5 million the year before, Ditto said. Its undergraduate enrollment went up by 37 percent over the last four years.
JN Musto, the executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, the faculty union, said, "Chemistry is in dire need of additional faculty members. They have not been able to hire them."
While Apple's new chemistry salary is very high compared to his colleagues, Musto said, "But at least, the chemistry department is getting the benefit, though of his teaching, his actually teaching. So we're not just, you know, paying him to hang around by any means."
Musto was referring to Apple's predecessor as Manoa chancellor, Virginia Hinshaw, who received a 10-month sabbatical paying her $287,400 in 2012. She was then given a tenured position at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, at an annual salary of $292,188.
When he was hired to replace Hinshaw in 2012, UH approved a tenured professorship for him at the medical school. But during negotiations over his firing this summer, Apple's attorney asked UH officials to reassign his fallback faculty job from the medical school to the chemistry department.
Over the last two years, Apple has clashed with the dean of the medical school, Dr. Jerris Hedges.
Apple said Wednesday night that reporting to Hedges "would have created untenable conditions under which I would have had to leave the university entirely."
Apple recently cut $1 million from the medical school's budget and Hedges was one of the deans who campaigned behind the scenes for Apple's ouster, sources said. Apple was removed two years into a five-year deal in which he was paid $439,008 a year contingent upon satisfactory annual job evaluations.
Lassner gave Apple an unsatisfactory performance evaluation July 18 and Apple hired a lawyer to negotiate a settlement with the university.