UCSD's almost-million-dollar man

Fall of cancer institute, sex case mars tenure of pay-boosted hospital chief

Paul Viviano, Pradeep Khosla
  • Paul Viviano, Pradeep Khosla

Someone at UCSD just got a $21,600 raise, and it wasn't chancellor Pradeep Khosla.

The school's top-dollar pay boost belongs to Paul Viviano, whose title is associate vice chancellor and health systems chief executive officer of the state-funded university.

Viviano's annual base salary went from $720,000 to $741,600 by virtue of an action of University of California regents last week that also boosted Khosla's relatively more modest compensation from $411,084 to $423,417.

Both raises came as part of 3 percent "salary adjustments" for 21 "senior management group members" approved by the regents.

According to the agenda item, Viviano is also eligible for an unspecified amount of "Regentally approved incentive pay." A University of California compensation website shows that in calendar year 2013 Viviano, the former chief executive of Alliance Healthcare Services, received total gross pay of $831,147.

Shortly after he was hired in 2012, it fell to Viviano to engineer the less-than-transparent demise of UCSD's costly Nevada Cancer Institute, a well-hyped but ultimately ill-fated Las Vegas venture undertaken by a previous administration.

Viviano told the newspaper then known as the San Diego Union-Tribune in September 2012 that the university’s goal was to "bring patients from Las Vegas to San Diego for bone-marrow transplants, major oncology surgeries or other procedures that can’t be done there."

"The jury is still out on whether those patients will come here. We think it’s the case. And we think there’s an opportunity for organ transplants, because there isn’t an organ transplant hospital in the greater Las Vegas area.

"We’re also going to be subleasing some [institute] space to clinicians in the community and we’re evaluating whether it makes sense to have a closer working relationship with a cancer group there.

"So the jury’s still out on whether it’s going to be a good business opportunity. Within a year of the start of our operations would be a reasonable time frame to come to a point of view about that. But we’re proud we’re there."

Viviano subsequently clammed up, failing to disclose the degree of the institute's growing troubles.

University officials continued to speak glowingly about the project until the Las Vegas Review Journal reported in November 2012 that the operation would be shuttered amid allegations of mismanagement.

A last-ditch attempt to partner with a health-care company collapsed that December.

More bad news came in March 2013 when Las Vegas media revealed that Michael Goldman, the cancer institute's former chief executive, had been busted that January for alleged unlawful sexual activity, transporting child pornography, and coercion and enticement.

This March, Goldman copped a plea and was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine and serve five years in federal prison in California, according to court records.

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Considering their compensation, those two sure don't seem to care much about appearances. All I see there is a pair of scruffy-looking middle aged guys. The good doctor seems to be trying to look like House, of the TV series of the same name. Does he also affect a limp and use a cane?

With take-home pay of $741,000 per annum, Dr. Viviano can look any way he wants. Probably the guy's worth THREE-QUARTERS OF A MILLION DOLLARS just because of all the dirty-work involved in shuttering a disaster and getting rid of a child pornographer CEO.

Whatever happened to Jerry Brown's ascetic approach to the UC system? In his first gubernatorial incarnation he was much tougher about UC excess -- and compared to the present gilded age, the old days look pretty spartan. If we didn't know better, we'd think Matt Potter made this story up. It's disgusting.

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