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University Of Utah Faces Growing Outcry Following Dr. Beckerle's Termination

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Demonstrators gathered at the University of Utah on Monday for what is the latest protest against former CEO and Director Mary Beckerle's ousting from the Huntsman Cancer Institute. 

Her abrupt firing last week has sparked a series of protests by faculty and staff. Demonstrators marched through the university's campus demanding a reason for Beckerle’s termination.

Susan Sheehan, president and Chief Operating Officer of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, said if Beckerle is not reinstated, replacing her may prove challenging.

"Looking from the perspective of the John M. Huntsmen family, I think they were owed greater communication and dialog than they were offered," she said. "Because of how this has been handled by the University of Utah, I think that would make people think twice about putting their hat in the ring for this position because Dr. Beckerle wasn’t treated with much fairness."

Beckerle is a renowned cell biologist and has been with the University of Utah for over 20 years and led the institute for 11. Her performance as CEO has earned her nation-wide acclaim.

"A very well respected former head of the National Cancer institute, Harold Varmas, spoke up against this change last week and was quoted as saying 'When you think of top cancer center leaders in the US, Mary Beckerle is top of mind,'" said Sheehan. "And to have somebody with his level of respect speaking that strongly on behalf about Dr. Beckerle and her track record, I don’t know how you could possibly question her leadership."

Jon Huntsman, founder of the Huntsmen cancer institute, responded with two full-page newspaper ads criticizing the University of Utah’s decision, calling the college’s administration "bloated, inept and uncaring" and determined to derail life-saving work.