Scripps Institute chief Marletta to step down amid anger over merger proposal
Jul 10, 2014 | 1999 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Scripps Research Institute president and CEO Michael Marletta, who has led the institute since January of 2012, is reportedly planning to vacate his post following his attempt at selling or merging the financially troubled center to the more well-heeled University of Southern California.

Faculty at La Jolla's biological research giant Scripps Research Institute had called for Marletta's resignation over the June 16 announcement that Scripps is considering a merger with or acquisition by Los Angeles-based USC. In a June 20 email to Marletta and Scripps trustees board chair Richard Gephardt, all ten faculty department chairs and the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies reportedly expressed “deepening concern for the future of our beloved institution.”

In the email, faculty members reportedly said Scripps can and should remain independent. “We believe that the proposed path with USC would destroy much of what has been built and what we and others in the community value so much,” the group reportedly wrote. Those who called for Marletta’s resignation say Marletta’s vision of the future of Scripps and those of the faculty “no longer align.”

Marletta later said in a published report that further discussions to address the conflict are imminent. “As we move forward, representatives from the faculty, administration, and board are coming together to thoughtfully review a range of options for the institute’s future,” he said.

Marletta, a chemist by trade, served as chair of the chemistry department at the University of California, Berkeley.

Scripps, a private research organization with campuses in La Jolla and Jupiter, Fla., had a 2012 operating budget of $400 million. It relies mostly on grants and, to a lesser extent, philanthropic donations for its funding. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded 86 percent of the institute's revenue in 2013. Meanwhile, competition for NIH funding has increased as the federal agency’s budget has hit a downturn, and Scripps hasn't established a track record of private fund solicitation.

The nonprofit Scripps is projecting a $21 million deficit for the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, USC began a $6 billion general fundraising campaign a few years ago. Half that amount has reportedly been raised.

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