On his official first day, Chancellor Thomas Apple spoke to a group of about 30 communications students during a Q&A session in Kuykendall Hall on June 25. Students asked Apple questions on topics ranging from his leadership policies to how the student body will have its voice heard during the school year.
Two classes convened in KUY 210 to hear the chancellor speak. The room was set-up in a low-key horseshoe shape, where students sat at the chancellor's level as he spoke.
“How about ‘Tom’?” Apple said, when asked on how the group should address him.
One of the main points of the chancellor’s talk was instilling passion into students, which he believes will help them in future endeavors, as it did for him.
Apple spoke of his educational past at the University of Delaware, where he found his own passion in chemistry and research. “[I] realized that's what I want every student to feel,” Apple said.
To help students be successful in their futures, the chancellor believes that developing strong communication skills is key. Apple expressed the need for students to leave the university being able to communicate and think critically. He advocated for writing-intensive skills, as well as service learning and studying abroad.
Apple then told the students that he believes leadership is about “inspiring and supporting.” He said that an important part of leadership is making people feel like they are heard.
One student then raised the question about student concerns and reaching the chancellor to get those concerns addressed.
“I'm very interested in the student perspective,” said the chancellor, “We need to know that what we're doing is working for you.”
Apple said that the university needs to communicate as well, saying that if it is not known what actions the university is taking, the students and public will imagine what the university is doing. “We need to communicate; we need to listen,” said Apple.
Budgets and the priority of each educational department was also a topic of discussion.
Apple explained the need for figuring out the swiftness necessary for dealing with certain issues and delegating others.
As for budgets, the chancellor recognized that some majors and departments are more equipment-heavy or have more students than others. Apple expressed a need for fairness, and explained that finding the right amount of money needed to achieve certain goals in each department will help. Apple then went on to say that it is important to find out where the money is flowing at the university.
A RESEARCH UNIVERSITY
Apple’s scientific background allows him to recognize the research opportunities that are present at the UH Mānoa campus, and he said that Mānoa in particular is a research university.
According to an article by Hawaiʻi News Now, the chancellor hopes to double research areas over the course of five years.
As an island, Oʻahu faces unique challenges when it comes to living sustainably. Apple believes that the university has a responsibility to the rest of the island when it comes to coming up with solutions for energy and food efficiency. The chancellor also believes that the university has a task in providing an objective third party for policy makers in their decision-making processes. Another thing that the chancellor’s scientific background has afforded him is seeing how policy interacts with the solutions that scientists develop.
RATING MY PROFESSORS?
When it came time for the chancellor to ask the students a question of his own, he asked them, “What is it that made you passionate?” A few students replied, and a common trend in their answers was a passionate teaching staff.
“It's infectious,” said one of the students about a professor that they had had.
“I actually like Rate My Professor,” said Apple, “I like faculty to be self-aware.”
He then said that the faculty who care enough to inspire were the ones that he would like to see rewarded.
An observation that the chancellor made about the university is that professor evaluations are used differently than other universities that he had seen. Apple then said that he would provide help for professors who are struggling. He described visiting with professors to see the problems in their classrooms, and then to help professors address them.
The chancellor described a “listening tour” that he was on around the university.
In a press release on the UH Mānoa website, the chancellor said the listening tour is in order “to learn more about needs, aspirations and desires for the Mānoa campus.”
Chancellor Apple encouraged the students to contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with concerns or questions that they had.