University Faculty March To Reinistate Head Of Cancer Institute

Apr 19, 2017

Just days after University of Utah leaders fired Mary Beckerle from her role as the Director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, protesters held a march demanding she be reinstated.

Around 120 faculty, researchers, and friends of Mary Beckerle chanted and marched from the Huntsman Cancer Institute to the office of University of Utah President David Pershing. Then they delivered a letter asking that Beckerle be reinstated as Director and CEO.

Jody Rosenblatt is a professor at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. She marched to show her support for Beckerle.

"It’s devastating. She’s the one that really led us into glory. When I came here 12 years ago, nobody ever really heard of the Huntsman, people thought I was crazy to go here. I turned down jobs at lots of fancy places. I really liked the spirit of it," Rosenblatt said. 

So far, university officials have offered few explanations for why Beckerle was removed as director, saying that they do not comment on personnel issues. In a statement released on Wednesday afternoon, they said the decision to change leadership came “only after thoughtful consideration and careful deliberation, and with the full support of the University’s president and senior leaders of the Board of Trustees.”

Peter Huntsman is the CEO of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. He took issue with the way Beckerle was terminated.

"There’s just been so little transparency from a public institution that survives off of public tax money, and student tuition money, and private donors, it’s astounding that there hasn’t been an open dialogue as to why such a radical change took place," Huntsman said. 

Huntsman said his family’s foundation is in talks to give $130 million to the University over the next eight years, in addition to paying off $125 million in debt for recent expansion of the cancer institute.

An open letter written by university faculty asking that Beckerle be reinstated has gathered more than1,500 signatures since yesterday.