Chancellor Tom Apple expected pushback from school deans when he called for a 2-year hiring freeze on the U-H Manoa campus.
What he didn't see coming was a move to push him out.
Some point to a key meeting at the UH Cancer Center last month. Hospital executives and lawmakers were among those meeting to talk about the center's future.
Apple had previously tried and failed to fire its director Michele Carbone and the meeting was an attempt to move forward.
The freeze doesn’t cover the center since it must hire at least 16 highly paid researchers over the next two years to keep the prestigious designation as a Cancer Institute--one of only 61 in the country.
Sen. Rosalyn Baker was at that meeting and says keeping that designation is critical.
"I don't think Chancellor Apple had an appreciation for the work that the center was doing or the importance of the NCI designation. I thought perhaps he had been enlightened after the meeting had taken place," said Baker.
But if Apple saw the light and the need to support the center, that message may not have been clearly articulated at the regents meeting two weeks ago.
"In order to meet that designation, we are going to have to hire more and it's fairly significant and that shortfall is going to grow from 10 million to $15 million,” Apple said.
"I am not happy about where we are at now, because ultimately that shortfall, if it's not fixed by some legislative change, is going to fall on my students," said Apple.
The UH dean of the medical school, Jerris Hedges stressed the need to correct an impression that Manoa's hiring freeze was paying for the Cancer Center.
In a memo circulated among deans and directors Wednesday he wrote: "The rest of UH Manoa has not been asked to bear the cost for operations of the UH Cancer Center,"
Meanwhile lawmakers are reaching out to UH President David Lassner to explain what is going on behind the scenes.
Lassner was to have met with at least one lawmaker Wednesday and has meetings scheduled with the Faculty senate executive team and the Associated Students Union next week.