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Research Integrity

Scripps Leader Marletta Resigns

Conflict: Change at top comes after faculty opposed talks of merger with USC

by Elizabeth K. Wilson
July 24, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 30

Marletta
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Credit: David Freeman/Scripps Research Institute
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Credit: David Freeman/Scripps Research Institute

Scripps Research Institute President and CEO Michael A. Marletta has resigned from the institute after a heated conflict with the faculty over a proposed merger with the University of Southern California.

On June 13, Scripps announced that it had begun talking with USC about a possible alliance that might inject needed funding into the financially shaky institute.

Scripps faculty vigorously opposed the partnership, saying in a June 20 e-mail to Marletta and Scripps Board of Trustees Chair Richard A. Gephardt that such a merger “would destroy much of what has been built.”

The Scripps faculty then cast a nearly unanimous formal vote of no confidence in Marletta and called for his resignation. On July 9, Scripps and USC announced they had terminated merger talks (C&EN, July 14, page 6).

Marletta, who is a member of C&EN’s advisory board, has led Scripps since January 2012. In a July 22 statement confirming Marletta’s resignation, Gephardt noted that the board “is working with Dr. Marletta on a possible transition plan.”

Gephardt added that the board will “work to make any transition to new leadership the highest priority” and “will engage all key constituencies in a dialogue about the future direction of this storied institution.”

Scripps chemistry professor Donna G. Blackmond tells C&EN that she and other faculty members “continue to have faith in both the mission and the future of Scripps as an independent research organization, one that holds promise for tremendous advances in the fields of biomedical science.”

Blackmond added, “The faculty are committed to working in concert with the board and the administration for the greater good of the institution to make this vision a reality.”

Scripps projects a $21 million deficit for the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30. Much of Scripps’s funding comes from the National Institutes of Health, which has experienced increased competition for the grant money it distributes, especially as the agency’s budget has stagnated in recent years.

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