University Shifts Course, Reinstating Head Of Huntsman Cancer Institute | KUER 90.1

University Shifts Course, Reinstating Head Of Huntsman Cancer Institute

Apr 25, 2017

Ten days after removing Mary Beckerle as leader of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, officials at the University of Utah reinstated her as the Director and CEO of HCI. 

University officials and leaders gathered for a closed door executive meeting on Tuesday morning. Afterwards, University President David Pershing emerged along with the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, Dr. Vivian Lee, and David Burton, chairman of the University of Utah Board of Trustees.  President Pershing promised reporters more information.

"Finally let me say that I will have a statement for you by early afternoon at the latest which I think you will like. Thank you very much," he said to the crowd. 

When the statement arrived it affirmed that Mary Beckerle will immediately resume her position as CEO and Director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute. It also revealed a significant structural change: Beckerle will now report directly to President Pershing rather than Vivian Lee.

Susan Sheehan is the President of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. She said reporting to the university President is better for an institution as big as HCI.

"It’s kind of beyond just the scope of the University and I think that’s why at times there might have been disagreements about its future," Sheehan said. 

The statement also revealed that a revised Memorandum of Understanding will be written between the University and HCI and mentioned the institute’s “strategic autonomy” on campus. Sheehan says the foundation will welcome the new relationship.

University have yet to reveal what prompted Beckerle’s initial demotion or her reappointment. The incident came at a time when the Huntsman Cancer Foundation had pledged a commitment of $250 million in new money to the cancer institute and debt payments for past construction.  

Also on Tuesday, more than a dozen physicians who lead departments within the University’s health sciences division filed a petition supporting the leadership of Dr. Vivian Lee.