As you read the overall arc of this story (including some very knowing
comments), it is clear the intentions of the U of U are to take over the
Huntsman revenue stream and appropriate it as they see fit. Lee's
motivations should also be carefully examined Huntsman will have
tens of thousands of committed, passionate allies who believe their lives have
been either saved or made better because of HCI (I am one of them). I don't know the palace intrigue but I know Jon Huntsman's original
and unfolding vision - as well as the management of it - should not be disturbed
by piffle bureaucrats. The HCI is a testament to this vision and the rest is a
distraction. Heads should roll and legislation should be enacted
immediately - perhaps even a special session - that protects and restores HCI
from any further U of U greed and idiocy.
From my reading between the lines it appears that the senior officials of the
UofU Hospital and University want to bring HCI into or under their umbrella
fiscally and organizationally. This permits tighter control of funds, personnel
and the direction of HCI, and eventual integration under Drs. Lee and
Pershing.This is in accord with the maxim that the first rule of any
organization is to grow or expand. The result is more power to those in charge
in the form of span of control, assignment of tasks and funds, and mission
direction. It appears that the managers have overcome a leader.How sad.
About BYU: if they want a research hospital -- which would perfectly fit Karl
Maeser's famous statement on BYU's destiny -- $125M from the Huntsmans
would be the perfect launching pad.It's very possible. When push
comes to shove -- which it now has -- Jon & Karen Huntsman are Mormons
before they are Utes.It just so happens that BYU recently purchased Provo
high school, which is just a block or two from campus. The perfect location to
replace with a brand-spanking new, state-of-the-art research hospital.It
also just so happens that the best (by all reports) cancer research hospital
director/CEO in the world -- who would be the perfect leader to launch such an
incredible opportunity -- has suddenly become available!And it just so
happens there's precedent for this exact sort of thing (Cecil Samuelson
& Jeff Judkins), so it wouldn't be BYU's first rodeo.(Mike
It seems the Huntsmans are jumping to conclusions before ascertaining the facts.
The story says the reason for the termination has not been divulged. Despite
that, Huntsman was quick to call Dr. Lee jealous, unethical, vicious and
vitriolic. How much worse can criticism get? Clearly, this incident opens a
whole new window on the Huntsman family.
it looks like both vivian lee and mary beckerle are incredibly accomplished
women, with both getting lots of recognition in their fields. lee has become
more of a bureaucrat with her hiring at the university of utah, but is still
listed as principle investigator on couple of studies. beckerle looks to be
one of the driving forces in the successes of the huntsman cancer institute.since beckerle is retaining her tenured position in biology, it suggests
that whatever the reason for removal is, it likely isn't for cause
(tenure can be threatened by certain activities). this is perhaps a powerplay
of sorts so that the head of the university and lee can have a direct say in
who mans the very influential position beckerle held. the idea that they
didn't at least attempt to clear this with jon huntsman is dumbfounding,
and perhaps very damaging to the university itself.as an aside,
firing a person in a position as distinguished as the one mary beckerle held,
via email seems boneheaded at best. perhaps they wanted her to quit on her
own, but she refused to do so. if that happened it still seems that you would
want to bring the huntsman family into the picture.
Listen, anyone who has ever read a post of mine knows my affection for the u
ranges between 0 and ten basis points. Even though I am not surprised by the
backhanded leadership of the u, I was very surprised to learn that there was
zero consultation with the man behind the Huntsman Cancer institute. Jon
Huntsman. 2.2 Billion soon to be almost 2.5B?? His integrity is beyond
reproach. The same cannot be said about the u. In my book it is just more of the
same....cancel games for fear of losing...cancel one of the longest standing
traditions in College Football...make up excuses for bad behavior of
athletes...not holding head coaches accountable for promises and
contracts....accounting missteps....you know...just more of the same. Too bad
the State legislature doesn't have the back bone to drain the swamp at the
u. Mr. Huntsman, I'm sure BYU would treat $250,000,000 entirely different
than a State funded, bureaucratic institution of lower education. Right in the
center of one of the fastest growing Counties in the United States. Come on down
I have no idea whether or not firing her was the right decision but it seems
that the method they went about making that decision was a poor choice.
They are not a research institution. Its an laughable comment.Hilarious......but then neither is the U anymore! Goodbye
The squabble of the multi-millionaires and their dirty laundry hung out for all
to see. Let's hope this can all be worked out in a civilized manner before
it's too late. Alas, if Mr. Huntsman is right, there is something terribly
wrong at the University of Utah that may need to be further exposed? This may
be nothing more than a clash of egos but as tax payers ultimately we will want
to know what is going on up there on the hill.
By all accounts, the University of Utah has so much money coming in from their
PAC-12 deal they can hardly find ways to spend it all. How about giving some of
that money over to the cancer center? After all, does Whittingham really need
another million dollars? Of course not. Let's put pressure on the Utah
legislature to cap these ridiculous coaching salaries and start moving that
PUBLIC money to where it's really needed most - cancer research. Certainly
part of that money can go to retain top end executives that are worth it.I long for the day when the CEO of a well-respected cancer research
institute is paid better than a dang football coach. We Americans have our
priorities out of whack.
GoodGuyGary said :"Mr. Huntsman, maybe you can save the donation to
HCI and start donating to BYU? I think it is a good idea to have a medical
school at BYU."Yorkshire sai:"Super Idea!At the least, take Beckerle and offer her expertise and a several
million $$ to BYU.--This will never happen. To have a
med school you'd need an academic medical center, which is exceptionally
difficult to manage.The LDS church got out of healthcare long ago,
for good reason.And what in the world would Berkerle do at BYU?
Manage the honor code office?They are not a research institution.
Its an laughable comment.
It is commonly known the UofU is more interested in money than in research...
If what's being reported is accurate, it sounds like somebody shot off an
email without involving HR. I can't imagine any HR professional anywhere
agreeing to this.
Within my circles at the U and HCI, I've seen many quality employees leave
the U to take jobs at the Huntsman, where they are treated better and deal with
less bureaucracy (who could this irk?) The Huntsman is constructing a pediatric
cancer hospital. Research is flowing well. Grants are coming in. Meanwhile, on
the other side, long-time employees are axed from the School of Medicine (wait,
who is the dean?) The U builds massive multi-million dollar facilities in places
like Farmington and South Jordan (wait, who is the CEO?). The School of Medicine
alumni board has recently had pledges rescinded as SOM alumni lose their
patients and practices in the wake of the U's new expansionism. And now
this. Even if Huntsman's reaction is knee-jerk, I don't think
it's off the mark. Look on Utahsrighttoknow. Who is the highest paid
employee in the University of Utah system, and possibly the whole state? You can
probably guess it from Huntsman's reaction. Having interacted with Beckerle
and Lee, the contrast is sharp. It's time for the U of U health to decide-
teaching and charity care or a greedy, bureaucratic corporation? The latter
mindset seems to be the direction things are headed.
Maybe she needed to go, but you don't make a decision like that in a
vacuum. And you certainly don't make it without consulting your largest
supporter and donor, and the man who the building is named after. And....you
never, ever let someone go via an e-mail. Who thought that was a good idea?Suggestions to move her and her research dollars to BYU-P is like
relocating Hill AFB to the Provo Airport.
GoodGuyGary said :"Mr. Huntsman, maybe you can save the donation to
HCI and start donating to BYU? I think it is a good idea to have a medical
school at BYU."Super Idea!At the least, take
Beckerle and offer her expertise and a several million $$ to BYU.Think how that could move the goal of curing cancer forward faster-- when you
don't have power hungry self serving administrators plotting against you.
What a mess! For Huntsman to go public like this means the U really botched it.
Pershing or Burton should have been explaining it all to Jon weeks ago.You don't just fire someone. There are warning letters and meetings. If
it's something like embezzlement or fake research, you don't offer
then another position.It just boggles the mind. The U
has the ARUP partners so they know how to deal with public-private
partnerships...or do they?The U has their hands full with Huntsman,
to be sure. And the big donations can be something of a white elephant. Huntsman
can build and donate fater than the U can maintain and staff. It's
complicated. And Jon isn't shy about tellilng the U how he wants things
run.But still, for all this to be out in the open is startling.
Wow, Deseret News, it appears you omitted some critical information about
oversight and contract obligations!
Mr. Huntsman, maybe you can save the donation to HCI and start donating to BYU?
I think it is a good idea to have a medical school at BYU.
UofU would do this and jeopardize $250M in additional grants?
Politics always exemplifies the worst in people. The university leadership
would do well to keep in mind that there aren't many billion-dollar donors
in the world. At the very least it seems that there are some inflated egos that
need to be taken down and lines of communication that need to be improved.
Jon Huntsman is a great philanthropist with great intentions. I'd think
the U would pucker right up with this kind of verbiage coming from a man who has
given tens of millions to that University.
65TossPowerTrap said:"Huntsman just needs to chill out and let the UU
administrators do their jobs."Seriously??Just pay up
(with unbelievable amounts of money) and then shut up??
Dr. Lee is well qualified but arrogant. I'm not surprised at all by her
action. It's time that another University (outside of Utah) hire her as
president.Also, it speaks volumes that Jon Huntsman Sr. was taken by
surprise. Something's wrong.
Huntsman just needs to chill out and let the UU administrators do their jobs.
Without more information it's hard to know exactly what happened, whether
this is a political power play, as suggested by Mr Huntsman, or something else
entirely. Since HR decisions are often confidential we may never know the real
reason for the dismissal. I have no reason to believe something else is going on
but it isn't hard to speculate reasons a person could be demoted/fired. Even though Huntsman is a major donor he is not part of the leadership
hierarchy at the Huntsman Center. Therefore he probably can't be informed
of reasons for personnel decisions for legal reasons. There's no doubt this
entire situation could have been handled differently but without more
information we can't say with much certainty who's to blame. Informing a person of their dismissal by email is not very classy but maybe
this was the final communication of a series of in-person discussions about some
problem. The penultimate discussion could have ended with "we'll let
you know by email what we decide". Again, I have no idea what
happened, but it's entirely possible the UoU acted appropriately. It's
also possible they acted terribly. Without more information none of us really
In the midst of the Huntsman family temper tantrum, it would be informative to
hear Vivian Lee tell her side of the story. That said, Dr. Lee might have knee
jerked on this one? But before we all jump to any conclusions, it would be
interesting to have all sides of the story aired. Alas, no matter what
justification Dr. Lee employed, the Huntsman family feathers have been ruffled
and now there will be heck to pay it looks like.As someone who
worked at both institutions, I can tell you there never has been a good
coordination between HCH and U of U Healthcare - and yes care at HCH has been
impacted by the politics and lack of cooperation between the two
institutions.One could argue that it would be best to separate the
operations of the two hospitals completely. Perhaps this incident will drive
this needed change?
Jon and Karen's way or no way. Everyone who has dealt with them in the past
Biting the hand that feeds you doesn't seem very intelligent. The U is
undeserving of such good will. It's a haven of radical liberalism totally
dependent hard earned tax dollars and donations. Gratitude is an attitude, shame
I think I can sum it up with some old addages:"Don't make
the person that brought you into this world upset!""Don't
bite the hand that feeds you!"
At a minimum, Pershing and Lee bungled a very high-profile termination.The bigger question: How badly will this damage the U of U's reputation?
Damage-control time. Pershing might want to consider bringing in
an outside PR consultant. Then again, he might want to make a phone call to
Huntsman, Sr., if he hasn't already.
Simple.8 words:Fire Lee.Investigate and censure
You gotta hand it to the University of Utah!Go ahead infuriate a guy
who's donated over a billion dollars to charity!What could
possilby go wrong?
"While I have admired Huntsman over the years, and applaud him for his
generous, tax deductible charitable donations to the fight against cancer, I do
not believe his donations gave him carte blanche over University Hospital
operations and the University of Utah, nor do I respect his knee jerk reaction
to this matter."Boy is this kind of a back handed compliment.
Lets not get confused that donating millions to save hundreds of thousands in
taxes still cost Millions to do. And when you invest heavily in something,
that bears your name, yes, you have the right to how your money is being spent.
If Trump had funded something - commercial or a charity - he would
have every right to complain if he thought it was being mismanaged. When much is given, much can be expected. I also feel discrediting
donations/charity as just tax dodges I think is very unfair.
Another personnel issue associated with the UofU. I'm ashamed. My
diploma comes down right now.
This incident is disturbingly reminiscent of what happened at California
hospital in the 1970s. In that instance, the director of a children's
hospital was summarily fired without explanation. As I investigated the matter,
I became convinced that it was because of a power play on the part of the
director of pediatrics at the associated university hospital. We will have to
wait to see how the current case plays out, but clearly it has started out with
a colossal blunder.(Fortunately, my daughter who was being treated for
leukemia at the children's hospital in California survived, and thirty
years later she was treated successfully for related problems at HCI.)
A lot can be learned from this set of facts from the article:Dr. Vivian
Lee is CEO of University of Utah Health Care, Senior Vice President for Health
Services, and Dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine. Each of these
overlapping titles likely carries a salary and certainly institutional clout.Dr. Beckerle must have felt a measure of independence because of the
reputation and mission of the Huntsman Cancer Institute that irked the
controlling nature of Dr. Lee, and that had to be dealt with.Any wonder
that large institutions like the U of U absorb so much money from taxpayers,
tuition and philanthropy when they are allowed to facilitate such organizational
I had a very wealthy finance professor who was planning on donating a large sum
of money to a university somewhere on the east coast (he didn't tell us
which one). But before he did, he sent his son in with a rather mediocre
donation to see how they treated him (apparently he knew this game all too
well). He said that they were so dismissive of his son that they never got the
large donation. They lost out on several million dollars. Sounds like the U of U
is suffering from this same disease.
No matter what the reason, to fire someone via email, especially someone of her
caliber, is exceedingly tacky. Speaks volumes re those in charge at the U.
Wow this is truly pathetic. This quote says it all, "The left
hand and the right hand at the University of Utah just doesn't know
what's going on," he told the Deseret News. "It's just so
pathetic to watch them operate."Time for some serious changes.
Based on my experience as an Uber driver in Salt Lake, I would like to join the
chorus of those calling for the dismissal of Lee and the reinstatement of
Beckerle.My experience with picking patients up and dropping them
off at the UofU Hospital has been atrocious. In one case, I was prevented from
driving up to the door to pick up a lady from Massachusetts who could barely
walk after leg surgery, and the security guards literally forced her to hobble
in pain to my car, with both of us pleading her case in vain to the guards. The
reason? Because Uber cars aren't allowed in with other cars. The security
guards blamed the hospital administration for their hands being tied. Needless
to say, the lady was livid, and lashed out at Utah. I hope I was able to
convince her that Utah really is a nice place and that her experience was an
outlier when it comes to Utah. Lee should be ashamed if she has anything to do
with the hospital.Then, on the other hand, I've picked up
several cancer patients, and they have unanimously had nothing but the highest
of praise for the Huntsman Center and the caring humanity and professionalism
they've experienced there. Fire Lee and restore Beckerle.
Top of the World made the best comment on this board, by far! While my
professional association was limited with the University Hospital, I will say
that department heads there are treated (and act) like gods. Kingdom building,
with its associated authority and implied power is ever present, especially with
said department heads. They never like to have their authority or decisions
questioned.While I have admired Huntsman over the years, and applaud
him for his generous, tax deductible charitable donations to the fight against
cancer, I do not believe his donations gave him carte blanche over University
Hospital operations and the University of Utah, nor do I respect his knee jerk
reaction to this matter. He is acting like Trump, and he should know better.As for airing dirty laundry in public, well, this will only make matters
worse. I suspect that this is simply a matter of a very qualified department
head who wants to run her kingdom autonomously while receiving funding from the
U of U hospital, for which she doesn't want to be held accountable.
Huntsman Cancer Institute ranks probably 50th in the country on funding and
research, I don't know why Utahns think it is ranked higher than that.
We got one side of the story with this article. Huntsman shouldn't ever
get involved with public university. To say a Lee is vicious, mean person is
to describe most professors and administrators in universities, and most
management in corporations. Legislature can cut the U's funding
Sadly, the University of Utah Medical Center has decided that its mission is
control and competition, rather than caring and compassion. Rather than try to
keep the great benefactor and namesake of the Huntsman Cancer institute actively
involved in significant decisions that would potentially taint the great gift he
has given, the University decided to slap John Huntsman on the face -
essentially saying "thank you very much Mr. Huntsman now we have your money,
we couldn't care less about your or your vision."
Dr Lee's and President Pershing's decision impacting the Director
without at least consulting the Huntsmans shows a degree of arrogance and/or
tone deafness that is hard to comprehend from two individuals with their
experience. Something doesn't add up.At the very least they owed the
Huntsmans an explanation in advance and you never terminate anyone by email, let
alone the Director of a prestigious hospital. Complete lack of professionalism
and class. Of course the Huntsmans are offended and rightfully so.My family has been blessed by the patient care at Huntsman Cancer Institute
and we will be forever grateful to the Huntsman family for making this amazing
Huntsman should have known better than to get into bed with govt. owned entity.
I like Huntsman's style. Blunt and to the point. We need more of people
like Huntsman calling it like it is.
Wow, Huntsman didn't hold back any punches! That was a brutally honest
assessment of the situation. Hey Utes what are your thinking? ? You just bit
the hand that feeds you.How much research money did you just lose over
the next ten years?
Well, the UofU staff and President have failed politics 101. Don't you
think it would have been wise to call the man who's name is on the
building? With the support that the Huntsman family has given to this
institution, I thought they would have been smarter than it appears. All politics is local.
IMO, Peter Huntsman nailed the obvious reason - money and control.Under Dr. Beckerle, Huntsman Cancer rose to the highest tier among cancer
institutes, nationally, and the Huntsman family was poised to make another vary
large donation to spur cancer research and give hope to cancer patients and
their families.To clumsily fire Beckerle in such a cowardly,
unprofessional way either reveals major criminal conduct on the part of Beckerle
about to be made public - and impossibility, from those who know her, including
Jon & Karen Huntsman - or a stunningly brutal need for control by U of U
leadership, even if it damages the University and the public.The
Legislature and Governor Herbert can atone for harassing the U's basketball
coach by getting to the bottom of this disturbing mystery with repercussions for
the entire state.
The University may have legitimate reasons for firing Beckerle, but to blindside
the founder and major funder is bush league at best. It makes the University
appear that it's in fumble formation. We haven't heard/seen the last
of this fiasco.
I'm not sure whether this person deserves firing but logic would tell me
that I would contact and involve the man in whose name is on the building. Just
The firing of Dr. Beckerle is only the latest in a continual series of firing of
department chairs and other deans by Vivian Lee. Two senior deans have left on
short notice. The entire hospital senior administration picked up and moved to
Stanford. During my time at the U, 12 senior leaders were either demoted or had
the wits to leave prior to being fired by VL. There appears to be a major
leadership crisis at the Health Sciences.
I agree with those that say that this should have been previewed by other
concerned parties and organizations. However, those that say "this was a
terrible decision" seem also to admit that they don't know the reason.
The reason may be one that can be disagreed with, but I would bet that it was
not totally arbitrary and capricious. I'm quite sure that the moving
parties know some facts that you and I don't. Now we have to wait for the
dirty laundry to be aired even to find out if there is any. If this was going
to happen anyway, it would probably have been best to hammer out a deal and let
the current director resign. Now we have a shouting match instead.
With all due respect to those who have submitted comments regarding the firing
of the HCI Director, may I suggest a comprehensive review, with full disclosure
as to the merits of the fired director, along with the reasons this change was
deemed necessary. I would appreciate knowing what she brings to a very
complicated table, how she has functioned during her tenure and a precise,
totally honest disclosure of why she was fired. At this point,
'fired' is the only word that rings true. I would further appreciate
an outline of what the Institute has outlined as the chosen course for continued
excellence over the next ten years. With that on the table, I would like to
know why Mary Beckerle is unable to adequately bring these projected plans to
fruition. Or, to be fair, how someone else would be able to do so in a more
efficient, professional manner.Until the above is carried out I will
assume this is a money/power grab. I hope this is not the case and that full
disclosure will alleviate my concerns.
Brilliant move Pershing and Lee. Insult and ignore your largest donor.
Terminating the HCI CEO by email without telling the Huntsman Foundation. What
were you thinking? This was a power play and attempted coup that will end up
badly for those involved. When all is said and done, Vivian Lee will probably be
the one losing her job. We can only hope.
The decision made solely by Vivian Lee to remove Mary Beckerle as CEO was done
without proper permissions. Jon Huntsman Sr. was not involved in this decision
and did not approve of it, even though he has legal contracts with the U that
decisions like this should be made alongside his approval. Additionally, as a
Principle Investigator for an NCI certified facility, Lee did not follow
protocol by failing to obtain NCI approval in this decision.As for
the patient care given at HCI, I can attest to its quality and patient focus.
Patients are highly satisfied with the care they receive at HCI, and has a much
higher level of patient satisfaction than ANY University of Utah Hospital. The
management of HCI is vastly superior, with great thanks being owed to Dr.
Beckerle because of this.
Another "great" decision from the UofU.
Clearly this has nothing to do with the provision of services or the ability to
provide services at a efficient level. This is about the controlling the money
and I suspect expansion vs. research.
@DN Subscriber:As a healthcare professional who practiced his trade
at both Huntsman Cancer Hospital and University of Utah Healthcare facilities I
couldn't disagree with you more!The University of Utah Hospital
and Healthcare Clinics are nationally recognized for clinical excellence and
quality care. In my view they do a pretty darn good job of managing their
resources efficiently and effectively. In my experience I saw a lot
of inefficiency and disconnects at the Huntsman Cancer Hospital. When a close
family member received care there it wasn't nearly as efficient and caring
as when he was at the University Hospital. In my view, more of the management
of Huntsman Cancer Hospital should be put under the Administration of University
of Utah Healthcare.
We now live in a time when leadership of organizations, nations, and even
churches must feel they have to respond to every so-called interest group who
feels inclined to question their authority when they make leadership decisions.
Dr. Lee and President Pershing are strong leaders. How can they be
able to do their job successfully if they are second guessed when they make
tough decisions?In my opinion, all this second guessing makes it
increasing difficult to find good people who will want to be in leadership
positions because there are so many who would tie their hands. If you give
someone the responsibility to do a job - allow them to have the authority they
need and stop the arm chair quarterbacking.
The Huntsman Cancer Foundation, Huntsman Cancer Hospital, Huntsman Cancer
Institute and everyone associated with them are exemplary models of dedicated
professionals who have achieved great things and are focused on even greater
accomplishments in one of the most devastating medical problems in modern
society. I have total trust in their integrity, vision, and dedication. A
family member's live has been saved thanks to their miraculous ability to
diagnose and treat even the most obscure forms of cancer. They are a national
treasure, and a huge benefit to present and future generations of mankind, not
just in Utah, but world wide. Thank you all!The University of Utah,
on the other hand, is not as praiseworthy, nor efficient in using their
resources, nor focused on patient treatment.The U management should
stick to worrying about winning football games or curbing crime on campus, and
keep their hands off anything related to the Huntsman Cancer operations. To
fire the HCI director without even the courtesy of discussion with the major
players is insulting, stupid, and extremely questionable.Enough of
the tail wagging the dog.