Did you notice this sentence in a Star-Advertiser story on Sunday concerning the potential ouster of UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple?
Apple, like other university administrators, did not receive a contract upon hire, meaning there is no need to buy him out of a contract.
A follow-up story today clarifies this statement somewhat:
UH spokeswoman Lynne Waters said Apple, like other administrators, did not receive a formal contract when he was hired in May 2012 at a $439,008 annual salary to replace former Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw.
So the “no contract” line came from Waters, the university’s highly-paid associate vice-president for external affairs.
The implication of the “no contract” statement implies Apple is an “at will” employee without substantive rights.
But at least today’s S-A story gets the other side of the story from Apple’s attorney.
“If it’s in writing, it’s a contract,” Apple’s attorney, Hawaii island lawyer Jerry Hiatt, said Monday, adding that no decision has been made to remove Apple as chancellor. “He has an offer and acceptance letter signed by the president. The regents approved his appointment, which is for a five-year term and specific rights to return as a tenured professor.”
A May 9, 2012, memo from former UH President M.R.C. Greenwood to the Board of Regents recommended Apple be appointed to a five-year term through June 30, 2017, “subject each year to successful annual performance evaluations at the level of satisfactory or above.” (The recommendation was unanimously approved by the board.)
The memo includes a provision that “subject to the successful completion of a review and board approval, Dr. Apple shall be appointed as a full professor in an appropriate department.”
Perhaps a letter containing offered terms and conditions isn’t the same as a document with written up as a formal “contract,” but it would certainly seem to confer employment rights nonetheless, especially when it has been reviewed and approved by the Board of Regents.
So what was the purpose of Waters’ “no contract” spin? Was it designed to mislead the media, and encourage the public to view Apple as an “at will” employee?
Or was Waters simply conveying talking points suggested by the university’s team of in-house lawyers?
I’m not sure which would be worse, to tell the truth.