Deseret News – On March 2, a seven-page confidential document was prepared and signed by two members of the Huntsman family seeking to give total control of the University of Utah’s cancer program to the Huntsman Cancer Institute’s CEO.
The document, which both the Huntsmans and the university refused to release, was at the heart of accusations on both sides of a power play for control of the institute’s finances and staff — a struggle that has played out publicly for the past two weeks.
Wow. A lot of questions answered here in this story from the Deseret News. There’s also a lot to unpack so let’s get to it. (You should also read the whole story because supporting journalism is right and what not and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have content like this.)
This is also the second blog about today about the Huntsman Cancer Institute but bear with us at Utah Unfiltered. This story deserves its own blog.
As Jon Huntsman Sr. said when news broke that the HCI CEO Mary Beckerle was first fired, this whole thing was a “power grab.” Although the public didn’t know the extent of the power grab or how it originated. With the letter obtained by the Deseret News, we now know.
The Huntsman Cancer Foundation “asked Pershing to cede extraordinary powers to Beckerle” in a letter dated March 2. That’s when the whole thing started to unfold.
The Huntsmans wanted Beckerle to have the ability to hire who she wanted, have more control over finances and report directly to Pershing instead of Lee. Pershing did not sign the letter.
That was two months ago. It set in motion what resulted in the firing of Beckerle two weeks ago. However, the University would only say she was let go because of personal issues.
With the Deseret News’ story published late Monday night, we can see the road that led to Lee’s decision to fire Beckerle. Power grabs left and right. The Huntsman foundation wanted to drastically change how the institute functioned with the university. So did Lee and Pershing. It appears Lee came up with a way to get what they wanted and that was to fire Beckerle.
Unfortunately, for Lee and Pershing, the whole plan blew up in their faces and now they are both on their way out. The new memorandum of understanding that will be drafted in the coming months outlining the relationship between the institute and the university will hopefully clear a lot of this up.
The report from the Deseret News goes into further detail no how the relationship continued to be strained. Beckerle hired another doctor in March for a newly created position. A spokeswoman told the Deseret News that as CEO, Beckerle has a right to make decisions about leadership positions within the institute. But sources told the Deseret News this went against the instructions of Lee and others.
When it comes to stories like these regarding academia, there’s always more to the story. We’ve now got a lot more questions answered and see that not all involved are as squeaky clean as some have thought.