SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The chief executive officer of the University of Utah’s cancer research institute who was fired last week was reinstated Tuesday following widespread outrage over the ousting.
University President David Pershing said in a statement that Mary Beckerle would resume her role as the CEO and director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, saying it’s time “to return to our mission of serving our students, caring for our patients and pursuing critical research.”
Pershing also announced that the institute’s reporting structure had been changed and Beckerle would now report directly to Pershing.
Beckerle’s firing was met with protests from members of the community and sharp criticism from wealthy philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr., who slammed the ousting at the school’s cancer research institute that bears his name.
Huntsman took out full-page newspaper ads in the Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune last week that defended Beckerle. “We must not tolerate an over bloated, inept and uncaring University of Utah administration who are determined to derail this life-saving work,” he said in the ads.
Huntsman said in a statement Tuesday that his family is “very pleased” to learn about the reinstatement, saying “Pershing is a man of integrity who recognized his mistake after receiving inaccurate information and immediately acknowledged it and reversed his decision accordingly.”
The billionaire industrialist provided money to found the cancer research facility in 1993, and family’s Huntsman Cancer Foundation contributes roughly a third of the institute’s funding, according to the Deseret News.
Beckerle had said she was surprised to be notified in an email from top university officials that she was being fired from the role she had held at the institute since 2006.
At a meeting last week, the chairman of the university’s pediatrics department told faculty that the ousting was necessary to anticipate future needs, but did not offer more information.