Dr. Marye Anne Fox, a longtime member of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees, quietly left the board, the Sycamore Trust reported in an August bulletin. The Irish Rover has reported extensively on Fox’s record as a prominent advocate of stem cell research.

University spokesman Dennis K. Brown affirmed the expiration of Fox’s term in April 2011 but declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding her departure.

Fox’s departure was not mentioned in the university’s May 10 press release on changes in board membership, but, according to the Sycamore Trust, she was listed as a trustee on the university’s website as well as in Bloomberg Businessweek as late as June 27.

After earning a PhD in organic chemistry from Dartmouth College, Fox eventually became chancellor at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Here she assisted in creating the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, an organization specifically dedicated to furthering embryonic stem cell research. As a result of this foundation, UCSD has become a major source of funding and research on embryonic stem cells.

Fox’s advocacy includes support for Proposition 71, a California amendment promoting experimentation on embryonic stem cells without the ethical restraints imposed by President George W. Bush, and the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, a congressional bill that called for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Fox was awarded an honorary degree by Notre Dame in 2008.  Sycamore Trust President William Dempsey believes that Fox’s departure may be attributed to a change in Notre Dame’s moral atmosphere. After President Barack Obama’s commencement speech, University President Fr. John I. Jenkins, CSC, made a firm declaration about Notre Dame’s dedication to the pro-life cause, which includes opposition to embryonic stem cell research.

After leaving Notre Dame’s board of trustees, Fox joined the board of directors at Dartmouth College.

Fox’s department comes on the heels of another controversy related to Notre Dame’s board of trustees. On June 10, Roxanne Martino, stepped down shortly after her election to the board when her donations to pro-choice organizations like EMILY’s list came to light.