Saturday, April 19, 2008

There appears to be a pretty serious case of

double double [sic] dipping

going on at BigU.

[Added 4-20-08, 9 pm
Welcome to visitors from University Diaries. We are not as literate but just as interested in seeing things change.]

Some heavy hitters, recently recruited from Georgia Tech, are alleged to have been a little too greedy and Georgia Tech has begun proceedings to strip them of tenure. Sound like the kind of people we need at BigU with their eyes intently focused on the almighty dollar?

Two quick posts - mostly quotes from the Strib and from The Atlanta Constitution are on the Periodic Table, Too. There will be another post here next week after further reaction of administrators at the University of Minnesota is known. In the meantime please see:

Is this kind of behavior OK, Bob? Tom? Is this the kind of message we want to be sending out as evidence of our ambitious aspirations? Based on the salaries these folks are pulling down - half a million dollars - it looks as if ambitious aspirations are going to be very expensive. But then we all knew that, didn't we? Bongiorno.

Added 8:30 pm:

Further information from the Strib including first reactions of U of M administrators:

Two U profs suspected of double dipping

By TONY KENNEDY, Star Tribune

April 19, 2008

A pair of pre-eminent University of Minnesota professors who were hotly and successfully recruited away from Georgia Tech are in trouble with the Atlanta school for possible double-dipping of salaries and expense payments.

Profs. Francois Sainfort and Julie Jacko, who are husband and wife, signed agreements last October to move to the U of M in January. They are national leaders in the emerging field of "health informatics'' -- making sense of computer-generated health data.

Georgia Tech officials contend the school renewed Sainfort's contract in October and Jacko's contract in January.

The couple was making a total of just over $400,000 a year at Georgia Tech; their Minnesota salaries top $500,000.

"Our hope is that it's just an employment dispute,'' said Bill Donohue, an attorney for the U.

Questions of possible double-dipping by Sainfort and Jacko come five years after a University of Minnesota professor was caught working at a full-time position at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.

In that case, Prof. Tzvee Zahavy, a nationally known scholar in Jewish studies, resigned from both schools after drawing two paychecks for several months.

The current conflict first came to light last Wednesday, when Georgia Tech issued a statement saying that it was in the process of revoking the tenure of two professors it suspected of "potential fraud and theft.'' The school said it had referred the case to the state attorney general for possible legal action but didn't identify the two professors. The Atlanta Journal Constitution named them in a Saturday report.

"The faculty members are suspected of dual employment and double billing their time to [Georgia Tech], falsifying travel reimbursement documents and other potentially illegal actions,'' the school said. "To date, the investigation has revealed approximately $100,000 in questionable activity.''

Martin Goldberg, the Miami attorney who is representing Sainfort and Jacko, said the couple is bewildered and shocked by Georgia Tech's actions. The school's presentation of information has been incomplete and inaccurate, he said.

John Finnegan Jr., the dean of the U of M's School of Public Health, said Sainfort told him about a month ago that his departure from Georgia Tech was in dispute.

"What he discussed with me is that he's just embarrassed and devastated by this,'' Finnegan said. "He has my personal confidence that he's going to resolve this and get through it.''

Donohue said the university sent contract information regarding Sainfort and Jacko to Georgia Tech before it issued its news release on the case.

Finnegan said the U of M wooed Sainfort and Jacko for more than a year. The two had a reputation for winning millions of dollars in contracts and grants for research.

Sainfort was paid $235,440 at Georgia Tech and his Minnesota salary is $285,000. Jacko was making $167,000 at Georgia Tech and her Minnesota salary is $216,000.

U contracts signed

As soon as they signed contracts with the U in October, they began to draw compensation, Finnegan said, including money for trips between Atlanta and Minneapolis-St. Paul. The pair settled into their offices in Minnesota in January.

"I do not have much information at this point," said Dr. Frank Cerra, senior vice president of health sciences at the university.

"Professor Jacko is one of the nation's best health informaticists. She was recruited by the Schools of Nursing and Public Health because of that stature. ... The university is now in the process of discovering what is fact and what is not. Once that is completed, we will have a better understanding of what, if anything, transpired. In the meantime, Professor Jacko will continue performing her duties."

According to a U website, Sainfort has served as principal investigator on more than $13 million in contracts and grants during his career.

He also works as a consultant to health care delivery organizations, medical device companies, clinical labs, and pharmaceutical, insurance and information technology companies.

Jacko, who earned a doctorate in industrial engineering from Purdue University in 1993, was named director of the Institute for Health Informatics at the U of M in December 2007. She also is a professor in the School of Nursing and School of Public Health.

The institute aims to improve health care through more effective and efficient use of computer-driven information and records.

1 comment:

irasocol said...

Wow, these must be the university Charley Gibson and Hillary Clinton have been so worried about this whole election year. Mustn't raise their taxes now. That would be unfair.