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Pershing Emphasizes Importance Of Transparency As He Prepares To Step Down As U President

University of Utah

University of Utah President David Pershing has decided to step down during a contentious leadership shakeup in the school’s health sciences division. Speaking to faculty Monday he emphasized the need for transparency in future university decision making.

Pershing made the announcement during a monthly Academic Senate meeting held on campus. He also mentioned the firing and rehiring of Huntsman Cancer Institute leader Mary Beckerle and the resignation of university health care CEO Vivian Lee last Friday.


Pershing said he was as surprised as anyone to learn of Lee’s decision to leave. As to the situation with Beckerle, he apologized and admitted he did not handle it properly.  


Concerning future mistakes, Pershing said they can be prevented with better transparency. Which university communications director Chris Nelson says will begin with restoring trust among campus faculty.


“Being more transparent means having the buy-in and consensus of the wider campus community," says Nelson.


Nelson says that doesn’t necessarily mean that the process behind campus decision making will be public. Or that university administrators will always be available. For example, since Monday’s announcement Pershing has declined further comment.


“Right or wrong, he has deferred to his media people like me to answer these questions," says Nelson.


But, Nelson says future controversy can be avoided with more involvement from senior leaders and key faculty members.


Pershing plans to stay in his post through the 2017-2018 academic year if necessary.


As far as the process of choosing a new president, that responsibility falls on on Utah’s Board of Regents who oversee universities statewide.


One of the new president’s first tasks will be appointing Vivian Lee’s successor, a role currently held by interim CEO LorrisBetz.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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