The University of Utah named a new health sciences leader to replace Vivian Lee, the controversial School of Medicine dean who resigned last year

More than a year after University of Utah Health Care CEO Vivian Lee resigned from her post amid sharp backlash for firing the leader of the Huntsman Cancer Institute and exposing a contentious reporting relationship between the two organizations, the state university has appointed her replacement.

Michael L. Good, who currently serves as the dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine, will step into the spot in early fall, the university announced Wednesday. While the news release does not mention Lee by name, Good credits the position’s “predecessors” for building “a strong foundation for future success.”

“And I look forward to working with leaders across campus to further the mission of one of the country’s top public universities,” he said in a written statement.

Like Lee, Good will also serve in additional roles as the university’s senior vice president for health sciences and executive dean of its School of Medicine. He previously worked as the chief of staff of what is now known as UF Health Shands Hospital, and held various positions with veteran health departments.

He graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in computer and communication sciences and completed his residency training in anesthesiology at the University of Florida.

The University of Utah narrowed its national search to three candidates earlier this month before choosing Good.

The process began in April 2017 when Lee stepped down after the short-lived firing of Mary Beckerle, director and CEO of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, sparking complaints from faculty and staff along with criticism from Jon Huntsman Sr., the institute’s late founder and primary donor, who called it a “power grab.”

Beckerle was quickly reinstated by then-U. President David Pershing, who shortly afterward announced his own retirement. Pershing and Lee were the ones who fired Beckerle. Still, university officials defended Lee’s six-year tenure as a top administrator, saying she substantially improved its sprawling, multibillion-dollar health operations. Since arriving in 2011, Lee increased the number of medical providers by 400, bumped the U.’s quality ranking from No. 7 to No. 1 in the nation and boosted its grant monies from $100 million to $288 million.

She was replaced by A. Lorris Betz, who previously held the position, retired and came back as an interim leader.

On Wednesday, newly appointed U. President Ruth Watkins welcomed Good as someone who “shares my vision that a public university should serve as a catalyst for improving the human condition and should strive to improve the community it serves.”

“I look forward to collaborating with him in the years ahead.”

Editor’s note: Paul Huntsman, a son of the late Jon Huntsman Sr., is the owner and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune.