KSL – Dr. Vivian Lee, the CEO of University of Utah Health who was at the center of a heated controversy for the firing of the Huntsman Cancer Institute director last week, resigned Friday.
“In a more private way, it is fair to say that some of the strong invective directed at my integrity and character, which was carried in the news media over the past two weeks, has been disturbing, especially to the younger members of our family in this close-knit community in Utah we have come to call home,” Lee said in an email sent late Friday afternoon to University of Utah Health employees. “I am hoping my decision today will help in putting that completely in the past.”
So there it is. Vivian Lee is OUT. On last week’s podcast, we set the over/under at six months for how long Lee might last. Clearly we underestimated the toll Beckerle’s firing would take on Lee and her public perception. Harry said under six months and I said over six months. I guess I’ll take the L on this one.
But wow. Only took a few days after Beckerle’s reinstatement before we had Lee’s resignation. Side note: What a convenient Friday afternoon news dump by the way. Lee’s first strategic PR move in all of this.
There wasn’t much Lee could really do though to repair her public image though, right? We suggested the only way to do it would be to cure cancer last week. Looks like that was too tall of a task even for Lee.
Part of you has to feel bad for Lee though. Whenever she was brought up in this saga, the growth she brought to the school’s medical research and services was always mentioned. People also mentioned how she demanded so much from her colleagues. She might have stepped too far though when she fired Beckerle and now it cost Lee her job. This has to be one of the biggest backfires in the history of backfires.
I get it. Lee wanted to incorporate the Institute into the rest of the school’s health services to pool money and help offset losses. With big-time donors such as Jon Huntsman Sr. though, you absolutely have to remember to keep them pleased. Lee did not.
The following quote from earlier this week from Huntsman might have done her in:
“I don’t wish her (Lee) well, I don’t wish her bad,” Huntsman told the Deseret News. “We just don’t want anything to do with her — at least I don’t.”
I post that quote again because it’s such a backbreaker. The ultimate “I don’t care about this person at all” quote.
Don’t forget about president David Pershing in all of this either. How much longer do we think he’ll stay in his position? He might decide retirement looks like a more and more attractive option with every fire he has to work to put out.