Media Contacts

Kathy Wilets

Phone: 801-581-5717

Apr 28, 2017 6:59 PM

Dear Colleagues of the University of Utah Health Sciences Community,

I am writing to let you know that I have decided to step down from my roles as Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, Dean of the Medical School, and CEO of the University Health Care system here at the University of Utah. This is effective today. Over the past six years, as part of our exceptionally dedicated and talented team, I have worked as hard as I could to carry forward the mission of our entire health sciences community and of the University.  Taking account of the events of the last two weeks, I believe the best interests of the University are now served by the decision I am taking today.

It has been a profound honor to serve in such an extraordinary organization. Thanks to the sterling efforts of every one of you, and building on the work and inspiration of all who came before, we are now collectively in a very strong and exciting position. This is symbolized in our physical environment by the beautiful new Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Sciences dental school building; new clinics from South Jordan/Daybreak to Farmington open and operating; the new Huntsman Cancer Institute research building which will open this summer thanks to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation; and plans and fundraising for a new Medical School Building, a new Ambulatory Care Center, a new Rehabilitation Hospital, and a new Innovation and Discovery Center well on track. Research initiatives extend from global health to the neurosciences, from health services research to the Utah Genome Project, and from personalized to population health and beyond. Major advances have taken place in the Colleges of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Health, the School of Dentistry, and throughout the entire School of Medicine. We have moved forward strongly in our focus on student and professional trainee experience, patient satisfaction and patient-centered culture, physician wellness and engagement, and high quality and high value care—with the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics again ranked #1 across all U.S. academic medical centers in quality and safety. 

We should not permit the events of the past two weeks to divert us from our fundamental mission, and with my decision today, I believe our entire community can readily return to its vital focus on health sciences, health care, education, and service.

I know full well that many wonderful friends and colleagues are rightly upset, and that others are at least very puzzled, by recent events. I deeply regret this and give my apologies to all. I am aware too that more than a few have felt there should be some sort of reply to the very strong criticisms of leadership and actions, directed especially at me. This absence is not because of a lack of strongly held alternative viewpoints and substantive positions, but rather a clear sense that the best interests of our University and of our entire community are to collegially embrace one another and all move forward together. I am delighted to see that this is already happening. The installation of the new interim leadership taking over in my roles, whose appointment President Pershing will soon announce, will be another important step forward.

In a more private way, it is fair to say that some of the strong invective directed at my integrity and character, which was carried in the news media over the past two weeks, has been disturbing, especially to the younger members of our family in this close-knit community in Utah we have come to call home. I am hoping my decision today will help in putting that completely in the past.

I step now into a period of personal transition, focused on the improvement and transformation of healthcare, future callings and pathways, and above all, the joy and miracle of family. I believe our entire University of Utah team of colleagues, community supporters, and friends are spectacularly positioned for a bright and rising future. 

Thank you all.

Vivian S. Lee

Leadership announcement from President Pershing