Faculty leaders call for Scripps chief to leave over USC merger plan

The staff opposition that greeted news that the Scripps Research Institute is looking into a merger or other type of deal to ease its money worries has escalated over the past few weeks, culminating in an email to the chair of the board of trustees. In the email, Scripps' faculty leaders reportedly are calling for the removal of President Michael Marletta because they have lost confidence in his leadership.

Scripps' La Jolla Campus--Courtesy of Scripps

U-T San Diego broke news of the letter, which comes weeks after faculty first contacted the chair of the board--former congressman Richard Gephardt--to oppose a merger with the University of Southern California. Since then the rumor mill has continued to turn, with both UC San Diego and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute mooted as possible partners for Scripps. Staff remain concerned about the way the process has been handled, prompting Scripps' department chairs and dean to email Gephardt.

Some think the email goes too far. "You can make suggestions, but you cannot demand action. In other words, the board's being told what it's got to do, and if you don't do this, we're going to take our bat and ball and go home," Peter Farrell told U-T San Diego. Farrell is a member of the board at Scripps, but was only expressing his personal view to the newspaper, not the perspective of the panel.

Others have been more conciliatory. "We understand that change can be unsettling, especially because people care so deeply about the organization. That is part of what makes this institution the leading force it is today and we respect that the faculty would like an active role," Gephardt said. In the wake of the faculty's early opposition, Gephardt set up a committee of administrators and professors to discuss the institute's financial future.

- here's the U-T article