Civil Beat readers may have followed with disbelief Chancellor Tom Apple’s abrupt dismissal from the University of Hawaii at Manoa by President David Lassner, and the controversy that ensued.

Because it came in the wake of previous controversies around Virginia Hinshaw and MRC Greenwood’s early contract terminations, readers may have lost any remaining confidence in the ability of the University of Hawaii to manage itself. That said, what appears to be the root of UH’s dysfunctional management should not be lost in the shuffle.

The documents publicly released by Chancellor Apple expose the pervasive effect that inappropriate outside interference has on running the university. The Apple letters make clear that his firing was in great part due to the intervention of powerful outsiders who opposed his attempt, last December, to remove Dr. Michele Carbone, the director of the UH Cancer Center (UHCC).

Former University of Hawaii at Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple says that cancer center politics led to his termination.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

At that time, a group of 10 UHCC-associated faculty who were partially protected against retaliation by their tenure status, published the following statement in support of Apple:

“Carbone, lacking any relevant administrative experience, was named as interim director in October 2008 and selected as director in August 2009 by former Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw over two very qualified candidates and against the recommendation of 87 percent of the UHCC faculty, who recognized in him an absence of the traits of a good leader.

His main task was to keep harmonious relationships with the politically powerful medical centers while developing clinical research in Hawaii, an area outside Carbone’s research expertise.

To help in this effort, he hired as a consultant, at very high compensation, Dr. Brian Issell, a former…

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