Director of Moffitt center resigns

After more than a decade at the helm of the H.Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, the reign of John Ruckdeschel as director came to an abrupt end Wednesday.

Following a unanimous vote by the Moffitt board of directors not to renew his contract, Ruckdeschel, bypassing the Moffitt public relations office, issued his own news release announcing his resignation effective June 30. Jack Pledger, who was appointed deputy center director in January, will assume the role of interim center director until the Moffitt board appoints a successor to Ruckdeschel.

In an open letter to all employees of Moffitt issued Thursday, Connie Mack, chairman of the board of directors, announced that Ruckdeschel was “stepping down.”

In the letter Mack thanked Ruckdeschel for his contribution to Moffitt but made no reference to his reasons for resigning or the decision of the board not to renew his contract, which expires June 30.

Speaking to The Tampa Tribune Wednesday, Ted Couch, a member of the Moffitt board said that part of the reason for Ruckdeschel’s non-renewal was his “aggressive management style.”

In his own statement, Ruckdeschel said he had been considering his future at Moffitt for some time. Ruckdeschel said he intends to carry on working at Moffitt in a research capacity and to continue as a professor of oncology and medicine at USF.

Ruckdeschel joined Moffitt as center director in 1991 from Albany Medical College, New York. Under his leadership, Moffitt has been accredited as a “comprehensive cancer center.” This accolade, granted by the National Cancer Institute, endorses Moffitt’s position as one of the top-rated cancer research centers in the country.