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Notice Document Transcript

  • 1. Dr. David Lassner President, University of Hawaii System Bachman Hall 202 2444 Dole Street Honolulu, HI 96822 Re: Confirmation of Notification of Violations of Law and My Contract Dear Dr. Lassner: As you know, I was appointed as Chancellor of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa (“UH”) pursuant to an offer letter from the President of the UH dated May 5, 2012 which I accepted on May 7, 2012 and which was approved by the Board of Regents on May 9, 2012. My appointment followed a national search led by *(see note below)Keil who headed a 23-member committee from the UH. My appointment contract was for a five-year term, which extends through June 30, 2017. To accept the offered position and contract at the UH, I had to relinquish my position at the University of Delaware where I was Provost and where I was due to make $450,000 the next year. The position at UH paid a salary of $439,000 a year, plus various benefits. Also, in order to accept the UH position, I had to sell my home in Delaware, at a loss of more than $215,000. I thus heavily relied on the UH honoring its five-year commitment to me and to my family. My wife, of course, also relocated with me and similarly relied upon the UH honoring its commitment. When I accepted the UH position, I also relied upon being able to do the work asked of me consistent with my job description. This included the very specific responsibility for the management of finances at the UH. Some of the most relevant portions of my job description are set out here: Provides executive leadership and direction to administrators, faculty, and staff by establishing goals and objectives, and ensuring that day-to-day operations, administration and management are executed efficiently and in conformity with governing policies and procedures. * * * Allocates and reallocates resources, as appropriate, in conformity with institutional priorities, applicable laws, rules and policies. * * * Provides executive leadership in raising funds and obtaining resources for UH Mānoa to enhance the ability of the institution to provide financial support for students, and to provide resources for innovative and creative enterprises, endowments, and academic programs and services.
  • 2. Chancellor the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa Job Description (emphasis added). It thus was, and remains, a key part of my duties and legal responsibilities to attempt to balance the budget for the UH. To do so, I must be free to explore all reasonable means to achieve cost savings in the interests of the UH and its students, and Hawai‘i’s taxpayers. The scope of this responsibility specifically includes the John A. Burns School of Medicine (“JABSOM”) and the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center (“UHCC”). As you know, my job was made much more challenging last year, when the Legislature unexpectedly cut our funding by $7 million. I then had to identify places where those cuts could be made up. It took a lot of work, but I did so. The “make up” included a modest $1 million reallocation from the JABSOM — which then had a total $10 million surplus which had been increasing, year-to-year in total carry-forward and which has a long history of having been heavily subsidized by tuition funds from other departments at UH-Manoa. Despite the need for this reallocation, and despite there being strong and prudent reasons for it, I have encountered extraordinary resistance in efforts to do this from the dean of JABSOM. You have mentioned relying upon his counsel in your critical comments on my leadership. I also identified the need to address very serious looming financial shortfalls with the UHCC, which is currently overspending its current income by $10 million per year and which is rapidly eating up its limited reserves of slightly more than $30 million. This pattern threatens its ability to continue, including as a national cancer institute center, a key designation for it. The UHCC’s director is Dr. Michele Carbone. Dr. Carbone has a history of vigorously opposing those who seek to curb his overspending or who otherwise attempt to prudently manage him. These include Gary Ostrander, Reed Dasenbrock, and Brian Taylor. I also acted to protect faculty that were attacked by Dr. Carbone. These include Larry Kolonel, Loic Le Marchand, Lynne Wilkens, Carl Vogel, Adriane Francke, and Robert Cooney. I thus also attempted to address the lavish overspending by Dr. Carbone, for example the inexplicable attempt to hire an assistant, Shreya Kanodia, for $300,000 per year who had just two years earlier been a post-doc. I have encountered extraordinary resistance to this from Dr. Carbone, from you and others including the Board Chair. You have mentioned this frequently as a reason for loss of confidence in me from you and the Board. I hasten to add that I admire Dr. Carbone’s vision and he has done some excellent work — however, the financial and personnel issues still must be addressed. I took each of these actions in good faith and in a straight-forward and prudent manner. I believed that my job responsibilities and the law required me to take on these very difficult financial and personnel decisions. In this context, I was, thus, extremely disappointed to have received overt pressure from you, as a result of these actions, in the form of recent threats to terminate me. I believe that this is a direct result of the actions I have taken to comply with my job description and applicable law. I want to state clearly that I intend to continue to attempt to do my job to the best of my ability. I do very respectfully ask that you work with me, so that I can continue to do this necessary, but difficult work and that there be no further retaliation against me or threats to terminate my position as a result of raising these and related issues.
  • 3. Thank you for your assistance. Very truly yours, Tom Apple, Chancellor xc: The Honorable Neil Abercrombie, Governor The Honorable Shan S. Tsutsui, Lieutenant Governor Mr. Randy Moore, Board of Regents *Names were whited out for privacy considerations