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U President David Pershing Stepping Down

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Courtesy photo: University of Utah.
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University of Utah President David Pershing announced Monday that he is stepping down from his post.

Pershing broke the news during a meeting of the Academic Senate. He said he’d planned on announcing his retirement this August but pushed up the date due to recent unrest between the Health Sciences division and Huntsman Cancer Institute.

The head of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, Mary Beckerle, was fired two weeks ago for unspecified reasons. Pershing reinstated amid pushback from the Institute’s staff and its chief benefactor Jon Hunstman Sr.

Dr. Vivian Lee, who led the initial decision to fire Beckerle, resigned Friday from her position as University Health CEO. President Pershing tapped Dr. Lorris Betz as an interim replacement.

Pershing said in a statement that he “thought it important to begin the search for a new president now — to run simultaneously with our SVP search — so that we have a new president in place when we are making the final decision on a Health Sciences SVP, which is a role of great importance to our university.”

Ruth Watkins, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Lorris Betz, will now work together with national searches to find a new leader for the Health Sciences division and a new president of University.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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