Eva Knott 9:34 a.m., May 18
U.S. Geological Survey chief quits, may head Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Departure of popular Obama appointee coincides with formation of UCSD search committee to replace departing Tony Haymet
Marcia McNutt, director of the United States Geological Survey and science advisor to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, today announced her resignation. Word circulating at UCSD is that she may soon be heading back to San Diego to join the faculty and perhaps succeed Tony Haymet as director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
McNutt, who has a bachelors degree in Physics from Colorado College, earned a doctorate in Earth Sciences at UCSD-run Scripps.
Before taking over at USGS, the geophysicist was president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, according to her online bio, and was on the Stanford faculty, among other academic posts.
In a letter circulated to staff this morning, as confirmed by a USGS spokeswoman, McNutt said she was sorry to leave her position.
It is with a heavy heart that I write to let you all know that as of February 15 I will be leaving the USGS. It has been my honor to have been your Director, and I have truly loved the opportunity to be a part of this agency: its mission, its history, its people. If it just weren’t for the fact that this job is 2000 miles away from my family and my home, I would be pleased to stay on as long as I was invited to do so.
I am timing my departure so that I can witness the launch of Landsat 8 on February 11, a very significant event for the USGS, and after that ride off into the western sunset.
The first woman to direct the USGS, McNutt is said to have been the first choice at one point to run Scripps during the selection process which produced current director and UCSD vice chancellor of Marine Sciences Tony Haymet.
Haymet's sometimes controversial leadership era ended with last month's announcement that he was retiring.
In September, before the departure announcement by Haymet (said to be friends with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and his girlfriend, Rancho Santa Fe's Elizabeth Keadle) UC regents had granted him a sabbatical and appointed a temporary replacement during his absence. No explanation has been given for his sudden change of plans.
Two days ago, UCSD chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla announced formation of the SIO replacement search committee, to be co-chaired Khosla and Peter F. Cowhey, dean of the Graduate School of International Relations:
The Committee will conduct an international search for a candidate at the full professor level who must be a scholar of distinction with an international reputation. A record of effective academic administration and leadership skills beneficial to the mission of Scripps Institution of Oceanography are required.
We've left a follow-up request with the USGS to talk to McNutt.