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Sainfort and Jacko - Dave Durenberger Asks Some Pointed Questions

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Former Minnesota Senator Dave Durenberger in his August 19 (2008) commentary writes:

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA ACADEMIC HEALTH CENTER maintains its silence on the allegations that two new professors have been double-dipping pay and expense reimbursement as employees of Georgia Tech and UMN. Francois Sainfort was recruited from Georgia Tech to head up the Division of Health Policy and Management in the AHC's School of Public Health. Sainfort and his wife, Julie Jacko, were signed to UMN employment contracts October 1, 2007 at $285,000 and $216,000 respectively or $99,000 over their GA Tech pay. Georgia Tech alleges they were still employed and paid there through the first of 2008.

After the story broke locally in April, Sainfort was pressed by his new faculty to go on leave from the directorship (for which $20,000 of his annual comp was allotted). In August, he informed faculty that he was asking Dean of Public Health John Finnegan to replace him as division director, the job the UMN went looking to fill 2 years ago. He calls the Georgia Tech charges "unexpected and unfair."

Sainfort is an industrial engineer who went to Georgia Tech from Wisconsin a few years ago as associate dean of its College of Engineering, as William George Chair Professor, and as head of a new Health Systems Institute designed to build capacity for Atlanta Children's Hospital in the research arena. His wife Julie was also on the Georgia Tech faculty in information technology. The UMN's price to get a new division head in public health was to take both Sainforts, creating a dual position in Nursing and in Health Policy and Management for Julie, and giving Francois their Mayo chair and authority to hire additional faculty. AHC head Dr. Frank Cerra was quoted then as saying, "This is all part of the 'medical arms race' for research talent among universities."

Two questions the University of Minnesota might want to answer to help us understand how "The Medical Arms Race" in academic healthcare works.

First, was Sainfort actually leveraging the Minnesota job for money and a job for his spouse against other opportunities?

Officials at Georgia Tech report that sometime after Sainfort and Jacko inked their UMN contracts, Sainfort made the three person "short list" of finalists for dean of Duke University's College of Engineering and Duke came checking up on him at Georgia Tech.

Second, if Sainfort is not the Division Director of Health Policy and Management at the U, who is?

And what will it cost us to keep Sainfort-Jacko around the campus doing what?

According to news reports Sainfort was coming with a high potential for garnering research grants, the financial lifeblood of the school. Under the circumstances it's hard to imagine the supposed 12 million dollars of GA Tech grants, much of which was designed for the Children's Hospital capacity building project, flying to UMN with Sainfort. The cloud which did accompany him here is also likely to make it difficult to secure new grants of any size to justify his employment.

Aside from the immortal words of Mark Rotenberg:

"We will try to piece this together in regard to whether something serious has indeed happened here in regard to so-called double-dipping." (AP, 22 April 2008)

there has been no action on the matter by our administration.

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However, we were recently assured by OurLeader that:

"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)


Bob, maybe it is finally time for

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