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Jacko Named Lead Faculty At University Institute for Health Informatics


From the Daily:

July 30, 2008

Jacko named IHI lead faculty

The professor is on administrative leave and is being investigated for "double dipping" at the University and Georgia Tech.

By Andrew Cummins

Embattled University professor Julie Jacko has been named lead faculty at the University's Institute for Health Informatics .

The announcement comes during the middle of an investigation of Jacko and her husband, fellow faculty member Francois Sainfort.

Frank Cerra, senior vice president of health sciences , said his decision to appoint Jacko lead faculty stemmed from a need to have a qualified faculty member create curriculum at the IHI.

"I think people will think what they want to think," Cerra said, in response to possible criticisms of appointing someone who is under investigation.

The investigation of the duo by the Office of the Attorney General of Georgia is still ongoing, according to an office spokesman, and findings are expected to be released this fall. The University is performing its own investigation.

The two were accused in April of working both at the University and at Georgia Tech at the same time - a violation of University policy . Jacko is on administrative leave from her position as IHI director.

The lead faculty position entails designing courses and educational materials for students, Cerra said.

Cerra said he notified faculty of his decision in an e-mail July 21. When asked when he made the decision, Cerra said it was "around" the date he sent the e-mail.

The e-mail, which was acquired by the Daily, read in part, "I have asked Prof Julie Jacko to serve as lead faculty for the Institute for Health Informatics."

However, both University spokesman Dan Wolter and Academic Health Center spokeswoman Molly Portz said Jacko was originally hired to perform those duties.

Cerra's e-mail was only clarifying Jacko's duties and wasn't an announcement of a new post, they said.

"Cerra's message was a clarification to faculty who were wondering if she was no longer in this role because of the investigation," Wolter said in an e-mail.

Additionally, Mary Koppel, assistant vice president for public affairs in the AHC , described the e-mail as a "nuance" that represented Cerra giving Jacko the go-ahead to start performing duties for the faculty lead position she was initially hired for.

A job description detailing what Jacko's duties would be upon being hired in 2007 was not provided by the AHC, after multiple requests for the document.

Both Jacko and other informatics professors did not return requests for comment on the topic.

"People will think, what they want to think..."

Or, pay attention to what they do, not what they say:

"I think we need to put ourselves in the position of acting according to the highest ethical principles. I believe our people do that now and I believe our people will be doing that in the future as well." President Bruininks (Daily: 6-18-08)

I gather these are the kinds of people who are going to help us achieve the administration's "ambitious aspirations of becoming one of the top three research universities in the world [sic]." Since they are supposedly on administrative leave, with a minuscule salary cut, a cute trick is to declare one of them "lead faculty."

What does this mean? A "lead faculty position" has never existed before and exists nowhere else in any other unit of the university, as far as I know. Since there is no "director" of the ISI presumably staff will report to her, so clearly her title as lead faculty is a distinction without a difference.

Given that Zahavy was fired for the same offense, it is unclear to me why the university hasn't been able to act sooner on this matter. I guess the BigBrains in ULegal are still puzzling this one out. In the immortal words of Mark Rotenberg (AP, 22 April 2008):

"We will try to piece this together in regard to whether something serious has indeed happened here in regard to so-called double-dipping."

The real irony is that if the scandal had happened in the Athletic Department, action would have been taken very quickly as recent events, starting with Mark Yudof's handling of the basketball scandal, have shown.

What's sauce for the goose...

Putting these folks in positions of power and responsibility, given what they have apparently done, seems like a huge mistake in judgment on the part of OurLeaders.

Where does this leave faculty who would rather not work with these folks until these very serious problems are resolved? If they don't then they are "uncooperative?' This is a common administrative tactic.

What does this do to the (already bad) situation in bioinformatics and health informatics? A situation that is due to administrative neglect over at least the past ten years?

Great for morale of course. To say "people will think, what they want to think" strikes me as another fine example of administrative arrogance.

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