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It was five years ago last month that Tony Haymet (pictured) was appointed as the tenth director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD.

The chemist and Australian national science administrator arrived in mid-September of 2006 with a full agenda and a cocky, take-on-the-world optimism.

"I've run a smaller outfit on the other side of the world, and we sit around saying, `How are we going to be as good as Scripps and Woods Hole?'" the Union-Tribune quoted him as saying. "So, the kinds of problems that Scripps has are the kind of problems the rest of us beg for."

UCSD chancellor Marye Anne Fox, who picked Haymet, told the paper, "We're very excited about Tony coming. We expect he'll do wonderful things."

The U-T reported Haymet, then 50, would be paid $250,000 his first year, along with relocation expenses and a UC-subsidized home mortgage of up to $1 million.

But now Fox is leaving her post at UCSD and there is talk about an impending campus-wide housecleaning.

One possible sign of the times: an item on next week's UC board of Regents September 14 Committee on Compensation's closed session agenda, entitled: "Term Appointment of and Compensation for Acting Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Dean of the Graduate School of Marine Sciences, San Diego Campus."

That's Haymet's job, minus the "acting" of course, and so the item has caused speculation about the future direction of Scripps and the University.

Leslie Sepuka, a spokeswoman at the university's Office of the President in Oakland, said she could offer no further information on the matter until it is taken up in open session and the regents' action, if any, is made public.

"All I know is what you know, " she told us yesterday after consulting with higher-ups.

Executive compensation for all new UC employees is currently highly controversial, drawing fire from state legislators and other critics who complain it has become excessive in the wake of the state's economic and budget difficulties.

Haymet has become famous for hobnobbing with big-name politicians and international jet-setters and his foreign travel.

In October 2009, he gave the Scripps Roger Revelle Prize for environmental advocacy to Prince Albert II of  Monaco at a high-end fundraising gala held at Scripps's posh new Seaside Forum event center.

Less than a year earlier, on March 6, ex-vice president Al Gore, champion of anti-global warming initiatives favored by Haymet, got the inaugural version of the prize at a similar event.

Haymet is currently a co-chairman of BioMarine and the scientific advisory board of the BioMarine Business Convention that began this Wednesday in Nantes-St-Nazaire, France.

According to the group's website "BioMarine is a private Canadian and French initiative at the crossroads of research, business and world events."

"BioMarine Business Convention is organized around a platform of meetings and discussions for industrials, scientists, investors and representatives of local communities, allowing them to boost their acquisitions, investments, trade agreements, technologies transfers, development partnerships at an international level.  Its goal is to develop small, medium and national companies on the international stage."

Tonight's main event, according to the website, is a fundraising dinner featuring Prince Albert II.

Yesterday we asked a Scripps spokesman for further details on the regent's agenda item, but he didn't get back to us before the power failure that hit the region; the Scripps press office is closed today due to the blackout, according to the office's answering machine.

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