In a rare admission of responsibility, the University of Southern California has agreed to pay $50 million and apologies to the University of California, San Diego for its successful efforts to steal away a vaunted Alzheimer researcher and his entire team. As reported by the San Diego Union Tribune, The move was part of USC’s research expansion, fueled by a $4 billion fund-raising campaign.
The conflicts highlights the battle for research dollars, federal funding, and R1 rankings. The man at the center of the controversy had presented a very different perspective. As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Dr. Paul Aisen said his move was fully disclosed. “It was not a surprise,” he said to the Chronicle. “As soon as I started to think about affiliating with another institution, I discussed it with UCSD.”
USC believes that transfers of faculty and grants from one academic institution to another should be done in accordance with all applicable laws and guidelines and in a professional manner consistent with the advancement of the science and research.
USC and Dr. Paul Aisen regret that the manner in which Dr. Aisen and members of the ADCS staff left UC San Diego and brought research assets to USC created disruption to UC San Diego. These actions did not align with the standards of ethics and integrity which USC expects of all its faculty, administrators, and staff. USC is committed to, and wants to be known for, ethics, integrity and the pursuit of academic excellence, and it has already implemented sweeping changes to this end. These standards will apply to all aspects of University operations, including the recruitment and/or transition of faculty members to or from USC. USC regrets that actions in this case fell short of these standards.
USC and Dr. Aisen acknowledge the outstanding work and the ongoing commitment and leadership of the researchers and administration at UC San Diego in the pursuit of cures for Alzheimer’s disease.
The incident is merely a rare public eruption of the free agency in higher education and the academic battle to control federal research dollars.