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Cold Fusion Funding Fuss Speeds Utah U. Chief 's Exit

June 12, 1990|From Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah President Chase N. Peterson, a cheerleader for the phantom phenomenon of table-top fusion, is retiring under fire for a hidden, $500,000 transfer of money toward its development.

Peterson, 60, said he will retire next year but had no intention of resigning under pressure.

In a resolution last week, the faculty's Academic Senate had questioned Peterson's ability to run the 23,500-student university in light of the furor over the money transfer. Peterson has held the post since 1983.

The president acknowledged that the "period of time I can effectively provide leadership is nearing an end."

Peterson had come under sharp criticism twice before in the last 15 months, first for the school's announcement of a breakthrough in the quest for cold fusion and then for his handling of a $15-million donation that later was returned.

Last month, controversy erupted when it became known that a $500,000 donation to the school's fusion research center that had been characterized by the university as an "anonymous" outside gift was actually the result of a Peterson-authorized transfer of money from the school's research foundation.

Peterson on June 1 said that hiding the origin of the donation was a mistake. He said he had hoped to avoid jealousy within other departments but had "hurt the credibility of the institute."

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