Tom Apple, UH Manoa Chancellor
Tom Apple, UH Manoa Chancellor

The University of Hawaii administration and Board of Regents have been under fire in recent weeks by Hawaii legislators and members of the public over management and financial issues.

Today, newly appointed Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple wrote a message to the UH “Ohana” (family), including faculty, staff, graduates and students, to assure them he is looking out for their best interest.

In the email, Apple wrote:

“Our university has been going through some rough times the past few weeks. While I believe that I have a good working relationship with the President and the Board of Regents, I want to make it clear that it is you whom I represent.  I am here to advocate for the students, faculty, staff and alumni of Manoa.  My commitment is to you.

“I have been going around and speaking with many of you about issues of concern here on campus, but I would like to step up the dialog.  Let’s continue to work together and move forward, to facilitate students finding their passion and to support research that matters.

There are so many good things happening in our UH Manoa community.  Let’s build on them.  What do you want for the future of UH Manoa?  What are your ideas for improved communication and campus unity?  Please think about this in the coming days and articulate your thoughts to me at the following address: I will respond in a collective manner in another email soon. I believe that our greatest challenges offer us some of our greatest opportunities.

Mahalo nui,
Tom Apple

Apple’s email comes just four days before the University of Hawaii Board of Regents will meet to decide the fate of his boss, University of Hawaii President MRC Greenwood.

Greenwood’s leadership is being challenged by faculty who are rallying around a plan to take a “no confidence” vote later this month to show their displeasure in her management.

In addition, Senators on an investigative committee that met two times in two weeks have questioned the administration’s lack of oversight that led to the University losing $200,000 to a fake concert promotion company.

Epic Talent LLC’s principals claimed they could organize a fundraising concert at the University featuring singer and songwriter Stevie Wonder. But no concert was ever held, and the principals disappeared with the $200,000 deposit that the University wired to the Epic Talent account.

Hawaii Reporter has tracked down Epic Talent’s world wide headquarters in Miami, Florida, where there is just a mailbox drop and no office. The company operates from the homes of two principals in a poor Miami suburb called Miami Gardens.

During two days of hearings at the state Capitol, Senators documented the so called “Wonder Blunder” cost the University more than $1 million. Senators also criticized the University for spending millions of dollars on outside consultants, including lawyers, public relations people and investigators.

The Senate committee, chaired by Senate Vice President Donna Mercado Kim, heard testimony from UH Regents, Greenwood, Apple, and their attorneys as well as Athletic Director Jim Donovan and Stadium Manager Rich Sheriff, who organized the event.

The Senate will issue a final report in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile the Board of Regents will meet during a special session on Friday to determine whether they will ask the president to resign or if she will be fired or if other sanctions will be levied against her.