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September 29, 2008

Ignoring a Problem - Highest Student Debt of Public BigTen Schools

Won't make it go away...

From the Daily

Fighting rising tuition and student debt


If University President Bob Bruininks and the Board of Regents are serious about reaching any top three goals, they need to put the interest of students first. But by increasing tuition of both undergraduate and graduate students, University officials are effectively increasing the debt of each. The high tuition rates and average debt could potentially scare away talented students to schools more accommodating to their financial needs.

The average student debt of a University graduate is $24,995, the worst in the Big Ten among public universities. Illinois has the lowest debt at $15,413.


How about it Bob and Tom? Don't you think it's time to discuss this very important matter?

September 26, 2008

A Question of Priorities

OurLeader spoke at the latest GAPSA meeting and said:

(from the Daily)

“We haven’t been controlling our economy very efficiently,? he said. “I just think we’re headed for a difficult situation.?

Bruininks explained the value of the University and why it should be invested in.

“The history of this University is very much the history of this state,? he said. “I don’t think anybody should put a dime into the University of Minnesota unless we use the money well, we invest it well and that we’re efficient in how we use resources.?

Trees don't grow to the sky, Bob. In times of financial stress, the value of prudent leadership becomes even more apparent. This is hardly the time to be making noises about "ambitious aspirations" or trying to solve our problems by hiring very expensive outsiders who are going to ride in on a white horse and save us.

Do we really need to spend another half mil to advertise the football stadium?

How much has already been spent on the money sink that is MoreU park?

How much money is going to be required to pay the University's share of the four new biomedical research buildings? And to fund new faculty and equipment to make them functional? And where is this money to come from, Bob?

It is time to focus on what should be the number one priority at our land grant university, the education of students - both undergraduate and graduate students.

September 25, 2008

President Bruininks, Where Are Your Priorities?

From the Daily

Misuse of University funds

Editorial 09/25/2008


The Minnesota Daily reported Monday that the new advertising campaign for the stadium was paid for with $460,000 from the central University budget.

This year, the University subsidized $4.9 million out of a $69.2 million budget for the athletics department, which University officials say have a goal of becoming fiscally independent. The Daily reported the new ad campaign is expected to boost fundraising for the new stadium and ticket sales, and the University has to raise $86 million for the new stadium. But it is still roughly $10 million short.

The University, nevertheless, has plenty of expenses on its plate, and if there’s excess in the budget, the first place that excess should go is into the pockets of students — not toward an athletics department.

Indeed, 2009 is a budget year for the state, and President Bruininks could have a hard time explaining to state legislatures that his budget request is “modest.? Especially when the University is doling out funds for an advertising campaign for a new stadium that anyone in Minnesota would have trouble not hearing about. Furthermore, it seems like an odd use of funds, considering that Bruininks told The Daily that asking the state to provide an investment “will be a challenge this year in the midst of this global or national recession.?

The University must remain cognizant of its responsibility as a land grant institution to prioritize education.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars toward shiny new billboards for a department with an annual budget of at least $69 million is a waste in the face of $10,000 tuition, especially with 4.5 percent increases on the horizon. We hope the Board of Regents takes a careful look at the budget request in its October meeting.

September 22, 2008

Are We Ready For A Conversation Yet? Tom? Bob?

Is the University close to becoming one of the top-three public research institutions in the world?

The following piece, in a slightly shorter form, has appeared in the Minnesota Daily:

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax— And cabbages—and kings—“

Another great summer has passed. The campus was surprisingly alive with students - some taking classes, some doing research, and some being introduced to the U through various summer programs. The students certainly aren't the problem here.

The tail end of the summer was a little disheartening though. We were humilated in the new Forbes ratings (524th !), but showed slight improvement in the US News beauty contest (61st) – leaving us still last in our self-selected peer cohort and in the bottom half of the BigTen. We are now four years from the beginning of our campaign to greatness, in another year we should be half way there.

Are we?

This is being written on the last Friday in August and I was away earlier in the week 'Up North in God's Country, aka the Norwegian Riviera, at Naniboujou above Grand Marais. There were no tvs, no newspapers, no email, no internet. This was a chance to think about where we are and where we'd like to be both personally and at the U.

Margaret Soltan, an English prof at George Washington, writes the premiere academic blog in the US, University Diaries (UD). One of her favorite targets is the excesses of football at the expense of academics, and we have become one of her favorite targets. It was on the UD site that I first learned of the latest troubles at the football factory. Evidently, we have made our academic standards even lower in our latest recruiting efforts.

I believe that our current football troubles and most of our other problems are directly linked to the top three goal. President Bruininks has touted ambitious aspirations in an embarrassingly titled document: "Serving Minnesota Through World-Class Greatness.?

"Starting in 2004...Under the leadership of Provost Sullivan, the University community articulated an ambitious aspiration for the University—to be one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic] within a decade."


Today's piece is not meant to be argumentative but to stimulate the initiation of a campus wide discussion of where we are as a university and where we would like to go as a community. I am very disappointed that the establishment of a blog for this purpose [“Conversations with the Provost?], promised last year by provost Sullivan, was dropped because of lack of time on his part. Certainly time spent on such a campus-wide discussion is worth more than that spent on yet another legal tome or further resume-building conferences?

Let all of us, students, faculty, staff, and administrators, work hard to make the U an institution of which we can be proud. People need to have input and they should have some tangible evidence that their input has been heard and acted upon and not just used as evidence that they have been consulted. The administration needs to stop calling people who disagree with them “doubters.? We have just as much at stake as they do, perhaps more.

In the words of Mark Yudof:

To the best of my recollection, no great scientific discoveries, no insightful social science tracts, and no novels have been produced in Morrill Hall. No classes are taught in Morrill Hall. No patients are made well in Morrill Hall. Help, or get out of the way! Without authority invested where the real work of this University is done, the light of excellence will only grow dimmer. University administrators have not yet cornered the market in acumen and foresight; a monologue will not suffice.
President Bruininks, Provost Sullivan, how about it?

I ask that you respond with a piece on the top three goal and that we continue a public dialog throughout this academic year so that communication about important issues does not continue to be a monologue.

Examples of other important topics include the money sink that is UMore Park, ethical behavior at the university, student debt upon graduation, relations with our outstanding coordinate campuses, and the land grant mission of the university. But the place to start discussion is the top three goal, because its pursuit precludes the solution of more important current problems.

I look forward to your response and the initiation of a true conversation this year.

Bill Gleason is a medical school faculty member and U of M alum (PhD, chemistry, 1973) who has taught at Carleton and St. Catherine. Prior to returning to the U in 1989 he worked nine years as a research chemist at 3M. He writes a blog entitled The Periodic Table, described as: "Periodic submissions related to chemistry, education, research, academic life at BigU, and anything else of interest to Mr. Bonzo (aka the Whining Dinosaur)."

September 19, 2008

Caribou Barbie and the Tinkerbell Hack

In the interests of computer security:

A while back, the bimbo of the month, Paris Hilton, had her cell phone account hacked by what has come to be known as the Tinkerbell hack. Tinkerbell is the name of her obnoxious dog.

The idea is that you can get into an account if you know the answer to some question, should you forget your password. There are variations of this. Apparently Governor Palin had her email account hacked by someone who got personal information about her that is public information, possibly through Wikipedia. A currently popular guess is that she used her Wasilla zip code.

So the moral of the story is: Don't use a question whose answer can be readily found. It might be best to use some nonsense word that you can remember. (I know this is a pain and the older I get the harder it is to remember this stuff. But the consequences - to Ms. Palin and PH - should be instructive.)

Please don't be insulted. I know that no one here at the U would do something so stupid. But maybe, somewhere, some governor will read this.

Oh, and if a governor should happen to read this: It is also not a good idea to conduct government business on a Yahoo account.

September 16, 2008

Hold That Thought - U Claims No Intent To Gown McGuire

From the Strib:

Put McGuire's academic gown on hold

By Lori Sturdevant

Last update: September 15, 2008 - 3:46 PM

Former UnitedHealth Group CEO William McGuire apparently won't be prepping for class lectures at the University of MInnesota anytime soon. Word last week that he was being considered for "executive in residence" status at the Carlson School of Management was countered Monday by a denial from the university.

The university statement, from spokesman Daniel Wolter, said that McGuire "was working with a leading faculty member in the Carlson School on an academic paper. There were no discussions of his joining the university in any other capacity."

A spokesman for McGuire, Bob Chlopak, said that any discussion of a permanent role at the Carlson School "was a surprise" to McGuire.

Whether it was sent aloft intentionally or unintentionally by the Carlson School, the McGuire trial balloon dropped like a stone -- and for good reason.
McGuire is not yet out of the ethical and legal thicket that the alleged backdating of stock options put him in at UnitedHealth. He has already paid legal judgments and fines of $37 million in the matter, and has relinquished a total of $618 million in options since leaving UnitedHealth in 2006. What he has not done is admitted to any wrongdoing.

And so was the statement, made earlier in the Strib, true, Mr. Wolter?

Stephen Parente, director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute in the Carlson School of Management, said the school had given him the go-ahead to explore the idea with McGuire, former chief executive of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group.

There was some discussion within the school, Parente said, on whether it was appropriate to engage McGuire, given the lawsuits and investigations in which he was embroiled. The conclusion was that it was.

September 15, 2008

Another Ethics Scandal for the U?

Letter of the day: Bill McGuire, teacher? He'd be another ethics scandal for U

From the Star-Tribune, Monday, September 15:

I was astounded to read in the Star Tribune that the University of Minnesota is courting William McGuire for the position of "executive in residence" at its school of business (Business, Sept. 12).

Yes, the same William McGuire who has become the symbol of corporate greed in Minnesota and nationwide, a billionaire CEO who was forced to relinquish his position at UnitedHealth Group because of a highly publicized options backdating scandal. In justifying the university's courtship of McGuire,

Medical Industry Leadership Institute Director Stephen Parente was quoted as saying "We don't really care about the stock options." Apparently the university is prepared to make McGuire a role model for future business leaders. It's difficult to not draw a parallel to some of the "role models" that have been recruited into the university's sports programs, and into professional sports in general.

While university leaders may consider it a creative coup to add McGuire to its staff, the average citizen will see it differently.

WES MADER, PRIOR LAKE


September 13, 2008

Burn After Reading, Bob - Debt Free Low Income University Graduates

Now we keep hearing things about how increases in scholarship support will make up for tuition increases...

But the debt load of graduating student is the highest in the BigTen and growing.

Here's an example of one of our competitor's walking the talk, Bob. Note - these students will not be in debt when they graduate. Hint: Maybe it is time for you to go and do likewise?

Purdue Promise:

The Purdue Promise ensures a Purdue education to Indiana students whose families earn $40,000 or less and who meet the requirements of the Twenty-First Century Scholars Program.

Purdue will provide a combination of grant aid and work-study funding that will meet financial need for four years; these students will not have to take out loans to earn a bachelor's degree.

These students also will benefit from academic and social support programs designed specifically for Purdue Promise scholars. The first recipients will start class in fall 2009.

About 200 students a year will be enrolled, and by 2013 Horne said she expects that 880 students on campus will be part of this program.

September 12, 2008

From the Administration That Brought Us Jacko and Sainfort, We Have...

McGuire!

"It's one thing if you're bringing in a criminal to speak. But if someone's under investigation, that's fair game," he said.

Have these people no shame?

From the Strib:

U considering McGuire as a business school expert

By CHEN MAY YEE, Star Tribune

September 11, 2008

The University of Minnesota is courting William McGuire, the health insurance executive who lost his job in a stock options scandal, as "executive in residence" at its business school.

Stephen Parente, director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute in the Carlson School of Management, said the school had given him the go-ahead to explore the idea with McGuire, former chief executive of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group.

"We are courting him to be an executive-in-residence at Carlson," Parente said, adding that McGuire's immense experience in health care is what appealed to the university.


The position is a new one and explorations are still highly preliminary, with the possibility of teaching, mentoring and research all on the table. Whether McGuire will be paid is also up in the air.

McGuire stepped down as chief executive of UnitedHealth Group in late 2006 after an internal investigation found that stock options at the company had likely been backdated.

This week, he agreed to pay a record $30 million to settle a class-action lawsuit led by the California Public Employees' Retirement System without admitting wrongdoing. He earlier paid a record $7 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission and relinquished a total of $618 million in options and other benefits obtained while running UnitedHealth.

Parente said his approach to McGuire was along the lines of: "We don't really care about the stock options. You know stuff. Tell us what you think."

There was some discussion within the school, Parente said, on whether it was appropriate to engage McGuire, given the lawsuits and investigations in which he was embroiled. The conclusion was that it was.

"It's one thing if you're bringing in a criminal to speak. But if someone's under investigation, that's fair game," he said.

Since then, McGuire has acted as "ad hoc kitchen-cabinet adviser" to him, Parente said.

In June, when Parente presented a paper titled "Is Consumerism at Odds with Prevention?" at the American Society of Health Economics at Duke University, he listed McGuire as one of six co-authors.

"This is a very smart, very engaged, very energetic person," Parente said. "He seems to have, despite everything else, decided to stay in the area. It would be pretty much negligent on my part not to attempt to engage him."



And we wouldn't want to be negligent at the U, now would we?


Some comments from Strib readers:


Medical Industry Leadership Institute

If you look at the website for this institute, you see that it was established in 2005. It would be interesting to see how much of their seed money came from McGuire and/or UHC. This institute prepares people to work in the medical device industry, where companies regularly poach each others employees and infringe on each other's patents. It also prepares people to work in the pharmaceutical industry, whose standing practice has been to shower gifts on doctors to get them to prescribe what patients don't need. The cost of the gratuities simply get added to the already exorbitant cost of the drugs. So, McGuire should fit in just fine at the institute. In fact the institute's director goes on record saying "It's one thing if you're bringing in a criminal to speak. But if someone's under investigation that's fair game." What an incredibly low moral bar he has for deciding whom to hire for a "leadership" institute. Such a sad statement for someone to make on behalf of a publicly funded university. The saddest part is that while McGuire made his billion plus dollars (and it appears he got to keep about a billion after all his settlements) an unacceptable percentage of the population, many of whom are children, go without medical care. How does he sleep at night

The Regents Should Put a Stop to This Poor Judgement

First of all, McGuire is not the only available "expert" in the health care field, and a good share of UH's expertise lies with more ethical employees of the company, not McGuire. Second, his poor judgement, greed and dishonesty cost innocent stockholders hundreds of millions in lost investment dollars. McGuire should have been afforded no better treatment than the management of Enron was given, but somehow he slipped through the snare with relatively little damage...given the huge sums of money he took. I can't even remotely consider how the University would approve adding McGuire to their staff, but I can tell you if Parente worked for my company he'd be out the door today. If McGuire does get added to the U's staff, my substantial annual donation to the University will be stopped. Somehow, some way, our society needs to say no to these types of situations and not back down for the sake of a dollar. I'll be glad to be the first to take that stand on this issue!

U Students Get the Message

The U has made it clear- not only with the McGuire situation, but with the case of attempts by the double-dipping husband wife team out of Georgia- that they will employ people of questionable ethics as long as the U benefits. I've always believed that you don't do business with people you can't trust, no matter what the potential "profits". Believe me, the kids are getting the message.

I just can't even believe this is real.................

.......next thing the U of M will do is hire Michael Vick for their Veterinary school. And I'm an alumni---I'm truly embarrassed.



Ethical concerns were considered?

A smart person? We can only hope he is as smart as he thought he was.

Hmmmm . . .

Maybe they can get him to teach the "Ethics in Business" Class. I understand the "How to Backdate your way to Wealth" module is especially popular.

outrages

this only shows how out of tune the Carlson school of business is. To consider this person who has stole from the public hundreds of millions of dollars is the height of stupidity. He should be the new "Thief in Residence". This will never happen!

Why not? McGuire can teach that crime pays

If you're rich or a Republican you can get away with anything - just pay off a few arts organizations and you're golden - no matter how much money you've stolen. I say - go for it U - show that executive crime is the path to University success!

GIVE A SCHOOL ENOUGH MONEY....

...AND THEY WILL FORGIVE ANY SIN!

But at the end of the day

he's a thief, greedy and self serving. It's an old fashioned thought, but he lacks character. Character seems to be a dying virtue these days.

Oh, and yes, and here are the immortal words of OurLeader to consider:

"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)


September 11, 2008

U Admin: Sainfort, Jacko Being Treated Unfairly?

It's Georgia Georgia Tech's fault because they have been only "somewhat cooperative"?

The Daily relates various University responses regarding the continuing Jacko-Sainfort fiasco. Apparently we are supposed to feel sorry for them because of lack of cooperation by Georgia Tech!

Lord love a duck...

From the Daily:

(Note that the headline is a little misleading, he actually has not resigned from the U.)


Prof accused of double-dipping resigns

Scott Heins


University professor Francois Sainfort stepped down from his position in August during investigations into him receiving payment from two universities at the same time.


He was the head of the Division of Health Policy and Management at the School of Public Health.


Sainfort and his wife Julie Jacko are still under investigation from the Georgia Attorney General and the University’s Office of the General Counsel for holding paid positions at both Georgia Tech and the University.


University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said there’s a difference between Georgia’s investigation, which is a criminal case, and the University’s, which is purely from an administrative standards and practices perspective.

Oh, didn't Dr. Zahavy get fired for double dipping? Apparently Counsel Rotenberg doesn't think this is a very serious matter and Dean Finnegan would like to keep Jacko and Sainfort on the payroll.

He also said he was confident the issue will be resolved during the current school year.

This is not the first time the University General Counsel has dealt with issues of double-dipping. Rotenberg said allegations of employees drawing simultaneous paychecks have occurred before.

Yes, indeed, counselor and this even provoked a Regent's policy to be established on the matter: double dipping will not be tolerated.

Both Sainfort and Jacko still hold faculty positions at the University.


And are being paid about $500 K between them.


School of Public Health Dean John Finnegan said stepping down was a personal decision on Sainfort’s part. He chose to focus on his role as a professor, realizing that he could not maintain the confidence of faculty as head of the division after the double-dipping scandal.


Got that right. And Ms. Jacko?


Finnegan said he hopes the matter will be resolved in a way that allows to Sainfort to stay at the University.


Now how is that for pre-judgment? Of course Dean Finnegan has a lot at stake in this matter.


He expressed concern that the professor had not been portrayed fairly, pointing out that neither Sainfort nor Jacko have been charged, tried, or convicted of anything.


Not been fairly portrayed?


Did the following events happen?


From the Atlanta Journal Consittution


In an e-mail to Georgia Tech associate engineering dean John Leonard in February, Sainfort said he and his wife had formally requested a leave of absence from Tech beginning May 15, 2008.

"Between now and then, we will travel from time to time to Minnesota for the transition," he wrote, adding that his workload for the semester was "completely full, with a class, four Ph.D students ..."

In the February e-mail, Leonard cautioned Sainfort against confusion over the schedule. "Please make sure that neither you and Julie are on the payroll at Minnesota, even at a small percentage. This could cause problems," he wrote.

Sainfort said in an e-mail in response that he and his wife had "not even signed an employment contract yet."

But the couple had already begun working full-time for the University of Minnesota at that time, according to documents. Mark Rotenberg, the general counsel for the U of M, said the couple's compensation and contracts at Minnesota began Oct. 1. Their residency on campus was set to begin in January.

Do you think that the casual observer - and the Minnesota taxpayer - might reasonably conclude that there is something here that should be investigated. It does not exactly look like a minor misunderstanding.

We learn in a Strib article of April 22:

"That e-mail communication is difficult, and we're going to need to understand exactly how that e-mail came to be written and find an explanation to that e-mail, if there is one," Rotenberg said.

It's September, counselor, have you figured this out yet?

and:


In an e-mail to Georgia Tech associate engineering dean John Leonard in February, Sainfort said he and his wife had formally requested a leave of absence from Tech beginning May 15, 2008.

"Between now and then, we will travel from time to time to Minnesota for the transition," he wrote, adding that his workload for the semester was "completely full, with a class, four Ph.D students ..."

“Everyone deserves their day in court? he said.

Absolutely.


I think giving Sainfort and Jacko their day in court is exactly what needs to be done and as soon as possible.

Why don't you get right on this? Maybe a little better job of vetting in the first place would have saved us a lot of trouble? Whose responsibility was that?

Do you think that we have enough evidence to proceed on our own based on the Regent's policy on double dipping?

Do you think that since last April, our ace university counsel, Mark Rotenberg, may have gotten sorted out whether, at any time, these folks were getting two paychecks for the same pay period?

Somehow this doesn't seem to be a very difficult thing to establish. There are income tax records. Under appropriate circumstances they may be obtained either voluntarily or otherwise. See Mark Rotenberg for further information - that's his job.

Or perhaps we should try something really novel and ask them? Someone apparently did this last February at Georgia Tech and the response did not seem truthful. Maybe more honest results could be obtained under oath? Ask Mark Rotenberg - that's his job.

You don't have to wait for Georgia Tech or the Georgia Attorney General's office to begin proceedings. Don't try to hide lack of appropriate administrative action in this matter - very damaging to the U - behind a smokescreen of due process concern.

Dean Finnegan is not exactly unbiased in this matter. The shop-worn (at the U of M) phrase "conflict of interest" comes to mind.

By all means Jacko and Sainfort should be afforded due process - that is not the issue here.

Here's a legal aphorism to chew on: "Justice delayed is justice denied."

Maybe Sainfort and Jacko are deliberately being allowed to twist slowly in the wind so that they will do the right thing - for the administration - and just leave? Thus saving our various deans and provosts further embarrassment without having to admit their own contribution to this fiasco.

Wouldn't be the first time


He was also disappointed with the way things have been handled on the Georgia side of the investigation.


“We’ve been very cooperative with Georgia.? Finnegan said. “Georgia has been somewhat cooperative with us. It’s frustrating for us as an institution and for Francois and Julie.?

Ah so it is Georgia Tech's fault because they have only been "somewhat cooperative"? Poor frustrated Francois and Julie and the U of M administration. Life is so unfair. But for consolation, while twisting slowly in the wind, they are still being paid a salary by the U of M.

Rotenberg and Provost Tom Sullivan worked together to issue an Aug. 18 memo to the deans of each school.

It stressed the notion of transparency on the part of new professors, and did not mention either Sainfort or Jacko.

Reminders are issued occasionally, and the memo was not prompted by current investigations, Sharon Reich Paulson, associate vice president of academic affairs and chief of staff to the provost, said.


In the immortal words of Ray Charles: "Uh huh!"

September 10, 2008

Sainfort Jacko Debacle

From Dave Durenberger's Commenatry:

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.

Since this article was written a new Director has been chosen internally to replace Sainfort.

September 9, 2008

Conversations With the Provost

There is a functioning website on UThink entitled: '"Conversations with the Provost." It has been established in the spirit of engagement fostered by OurProvost Tom Sullivan. I encourage readers to check it out and post in the comments section your ideas and thoughts on our great university.

From Conversations with the Provost:

ETblog.jpg

No, this is NOT actually the Provost's web site. The graphic above was originally on a short-lived UThink blog site that has been closed.

There may be more here in the future. Check back.

Bill Gleason

Added: September 9, 2008

emailHdr-provost.gif

September 9, 2008

Dear faculty, students, and staff,

Welcome to a new academic year. As Provost of this great research university, I hope to encourage the University community to engage in discussion on major topical issues. This message is the first in a series of several intended to spark those discussions.

Since our community has just finished hosting the Republican National Convention and a presidential election is just two months away, I have been thinking about the connection between democracy and higher education. I welcome your comments about these ideas. My email is provost@umn.edu.

One of the energizing aspects of working and studying at a major university is being surrounded by students and colleagues with whom creative, thoughtful, and articulate ideas can be shared, debated, and developed. Please join or spark discussions of your own!

Best regards,

Tom Sullivan

Tom, this is not my idea of engagement. You pontificate and we respond - via email. The message comes across as: "Children, discuss among yourselves." Conversations have to be two way. My response to the above as well as the linked extended article will be posted. I will let you know when this happens and invite you to respond. And of course any time you'd actually like to engage in a spirited debate that challenges your assumptions, just let me know. I'd be happy to take you to the BigTen or the Wok some Saturday for lunch.

Sincerely,

Bill Gleason

Time Shaving and Other Unethical Practices Alleged at UDS

Mr. B. remembers punching a time-clock at the old Park Schenley hotel where he labored as a bus-boy to support his college habit. Fortunately the clock wage was a tiny fraction of the total wage, the rest being tips. Maybe the clock wage was shaved, though?

From the Daily we see this and other unethical practices alleged at our own, beloved, UDS (University Dining Services).

Say it isn't so, Bob!

"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)


From the Daily:

UDS manipulates payroll, uses unethical practices.

09/09/2008
Reporter:
Mannix, Andrew

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is the result of a Daily investigation of University Dining Services and Aramark Corp. that began March 2008, compiled through employment data and interviews with current and former employees.

In 2007, University Dining Services experienced a turnover of 469 employees — more than half of the students and teamsters that account for UDS’ staff, according to University records.

This is more than three times the amount of employee terminations in 1998, the first year Aramark Corp. partnered with UDS, according to University records.

Director of UDS Contract Administration Leslie Bowman says recent employee satisfaction surveys show a significantly positive shift toward a happier staff from past years.

But current and former UDS employees and one former Aramark assistant manager say UDS tampers with payroll records to remove pay for hours worked, and that some Aramark and UDS managers create an overtly “hostile? work environment that repels employees.

According to these sources, this hostility includes verbal abuse, targeting perceived “troublemaker? employees and discouraging staff who have sustained on-the-job injuries from seeking immediate medical attention.

“The morale around here is so low, it’s unbelievable,? Gary Strafelda , a 19-year UDS veteran and local 320 Union Steward, said. “That’s the way a lot of us feel: How do these people sleep at night with the way they treat people??

Manipulation of timecards?

Daniel Revsbeck first became suspicious that UDS, his then-employer, was skimming money off his paychecks in August 2006.

Each time his personal records disagreed with his paycheck stub, Revsbeck requested records of his payroll from UDS.

On both occasions, Revsbeck discovered 30-minute blocks of time had been removed from multiple dates on which, according to his records, he had not clocked out for an unpaid break.

“I wanted to challenge it,? Revsbeck recalled. “I just thought that it wasn’t fair. In my experience, employees are paid for all hours worked, not for partial hours worked.?

After presenting his case to a manager, Revsbeck said he received compensation for the missing pay both times, neither of which amounted to more than two total hours.

But if Revsbeck had not been keeping meticulous daily records and taken action, would he have ever seen restitution for the discrepancy?

He doesn’t think so.

“I don’t believe they ever would have decided to pay the money,? Revsbeck said. “It’s like you have to hold them accountable. First you have to investigate it yourself. Then you have to discover a discrepancy. Then you have to confront them.?

However, Bowman said if employees follow the system properly, incidents like Revsbeck’s “should not happen.?

“We take payroll and paying our employees very, very seriously, and would absolutely expect employees to get paid for the time they put in,? Bowman said.

Morgan and Bowman both said they cannot recall a single incident that an employee has followed the exception log procedure correctly — like Revsbeck — and still had time removed from their paychecks.

But two other UDS employees said the same thing happened to them earlier this year.

One current employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said 20 hours were removed from his paychecks over the course of a month in early 2008.

Similar to Revsbeck, this employee had kept personal records that he found conflicted with his paycheck and requested copies of his payroll records, he said.

As the only person with his position in his work facility, this employee said he works about 50 to 80 hours per week, and rarely is able take a half-hour unpaid break.

After confronting his manager, this employee said UDS added the 20 missing hours to a later paycheck.

Gary Strafelda, a cook in the Coffman Union kitchen, said he had a similar experience in June.

His paycheck stub indicated he worked 77 hours in a two-week period, but he was certain he worked the full 80.

All deviations from his normal schedule were documented and approved by a manager, Strafelda said.

He received compensation for two hours on a later paycheck. Despite his efforts, he has still not received pay for the third hour, he said.

Aramark Corp.

In 1997, the University had a self-operated dining service facing financial hardship, with profit losses plummeting more than $1 million annually. It was in dire need of a savior to curb its losses.

In 1998, the University signed a 10-year contract with the Philadelphia-based food industry conglomerate Aramark.

True to their word, within a year Aramark rid the profit loss. However, some University faculty and students were instantly critical of the new prices and service quality that came along with it.

As the next 10 years rolled by, Aramark continued to improve profits. Earlier this year, Aramark and the University negotiated a new 12-year contract valued at $96 million.

Aramark Resident District Manager Larry Weger declined to speak for this story, except through e-mailed responses via Aramark’s corporate communications staff, which conflicts with Minnesota Daily policy.

While the University’s food service profit loss has stayed relatively constant since partnering with Aramark 10 years ago, UDS’ turnover has skyrocketed, according to University records.
The biggest jump in terminations hit in 2000, as the number climbed from 142 to 354, a 149 percent increase, according to University records.

Over the next eight years, terminations staggered but continued to rise, peaking at 469 in 2007, according to University records.

Terminations can include an employee quitting, being fired, transferring to another department within the University or being promoted within UDS.

Many UDS employees, and one former Aramark assistant manager, attribute this turnover in part to what they describe as a “hostile? work environment. Many of these people spoke on the condition of anonymity in fear of retaliation from UDS and Aramark.

The former Aramark employee described certain UDS locations as “extremely hostile.? He said before he left there were many current problems stemming from UDS over-projecting their annual profit. When they failed to meet financial goals, management began using “borderline unethical? means of saving money, including purposely understaffing and overworking employees, and manipulating employee timecard records.

This former Aramark employee said he regularly witnessed unethical behavior on the part of UDS managers. He said, in one instance, an employee severely burned himself while on the clock last fall. Though he suffered from visible burns, he was told not to go to the doctor. Instead, he wrapped his wound with gauze and continued working.

“It blistered and peeled,? he said about the burn. “But the position that he was in was so critical to the smooth operation, and nobody else was trained to do that. So if he left, that part of the operation would fail.?

This former Aramark employee also said UDS employees who were vocal about workplace misdeeds were “targeted.? He said he and other Aramark employees were continually told to monitor these perceived “troublemakers.?

“They don’t want to hear the truth,? he said. “Any infraction — either perceived or actual — is completely exploited and blown out of proportion.?

Three other current UDS employees say they have witnessed unethical practices by both UDS and Aramark managers, including racial discrimination, verbally abusing employees to the point of tears in the presence of customers, and encouraging injured employees to not seek medical attention.

In one instance, Strafelda said a pregnant coworker was reprimanded for missing a day of work for a doctor’s appointment.

“They seem to want to bully the employees,? Strafelda said. “They strong-arm employees into doing things they’re not supposed to.?

“I don’t see it being a higher level of dissatisfaction from employees now as it was when we were self-operated,? Bowman said.

But some UDS employees blame a managerial focus on the bottom line.

“It can’t be all about the money,? Strafelda said, “and that’s the way it is with this current management staff.?

September 8, 2008

Read It And Weep

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From the Sunday Strib, front page, above the fold:


[Added later: MinnPost says about the series:

"A must-read series on payments to doctors by medical device companies in the Star Tribune. Sunday's piece introduces the practice of paying high-profile doctors consulting fees. Critics who say it's a way of buying influence. Today's piece continues with the debate about what is appropriate and what crosses the line when it comes to consulting fees." ]



By JANET MOORE, Star Tribune

September 6, 2008

Dr. David Polly's reputation precedes him and it's worth a lot. Among spine surgeons, this rather unremarkable-looking 51-year-old is a rock star.


Patients may notice the notepads and pens bearing drug company logos in their doctor's office. They may have read accounts in recent years of drug companies paying doctors to try to influence what they prescribe. Few are aware of the deeper financial relationship their doctor may have with medical device companies and how that may influence their care.

To probe the practice, and the ethical and legal issues engulfing it, the Star Tribune has examined hundreds of pages of legal and government documents, and interviewed dozens of government officials, doctors and industry insiders.

A recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit, and Congressional and Justice Department investigations, are finally bringing into public view the practice of handsomely reimbursing top doctors to consult for medical device companies.

Government investigators, lawyers for former employees and a few breakaway surgeons have some questions of their own -- about a practice they allege exists primarily to give companies an edge over competitors by paying doctors to recommend their products. Sometimes these consulting fees involve speakers' fees, royalty income or money for research, or training courses, the whistleblower lawsuit claims.

It's not just the spine industry exposed in the newly harsh glare of investigations into this practice. Last year, the government reached a $311 million settlement with the country's biggest makers of hip and knee implants after a probe into doctor consulting agreements. In 2005, subpoenas were served on major cardiac device makers -- and, in the past month, even on companies that make relatively obscure bile duct stents.

Patients are usually none the wiser about these agreements. Pending federal legislation would require drug and medical device companies to publicly reveal on the Internet what they pay their doctor consultants. Minnesota is one of the few states requiring public disclosure of payments to doctors by drug companies. But the law doesn't cover medical devices, the state's signature industry.

The $344,375 in consulting fees Polly allegedly received from Medtronic in 2006, and similar amounts in 2004 and 2005, are only emerging because of a complaint filed in a whistleblower lawsuit by two former Medtronic employees in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts.

The Star Tribune requested from the University of Minnesota the amount medical device companies pay researchers, staff and doctors. But the university refused, saying it is private personnel data that is not public under the Minnesota Data Practices Act. University records that are public reflect only that the portion of Polly's income from his base university salary was $52,750 last year.

The Massachusetts lawsuit accuses Polly and 112 other leading spine surgeons of allegedly accepting a total of $8 million in unethical and possibly illegal consulting payments in 2006 alone.

Polly declined to comment for this story. He referred all questions to his Minneapolis attorney, John Lundquist, who represents 82 of the surgeons named in the Massachusetts lawsuit -- including Polly and other doctors from Minnesota.

Lundquist would not confirm the amount of consulting fees the suit alleges were paid to Polly. "We are not going to comment on the personal finances of any of our clients," he said.

"These surgeons have done absolutely nothing wrong," said Lundquist. "They are among the most renowned and respected orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons in the nation." Lundquist recently filed a motion to dismiss the suit on a number of legal grounds.

But Dr. Charles Burton takes a different view of the consulting arrangements. The St. Paul neurosurgeon is vice president of the Association for Ethics in Spine Surgery, a grassroots group of doctors who do not accept compensation from companies for using their devices. "The payments have gone too far. It's gotten out of hand," Burton said. "It's become an embarrassment to the medical profession. I think people have to say, 'Enough.'"

Doctors hold powerful sway over which brands of medical devices are used on patients.

Many of their consulting agreements with device companies are simply intended to extract doctors' expertise to improve devices or to train doctors on new products. But if a company strikes an agreement with a doctor intended to steer his product choice to its own device, the behavior becomes illegal under federal law.

No one knows how much the device industry spends on these agreements. In congressional testimony this year, Gregory Demske of the federal Office of the Inspector General said four of the biggest hip and knee implant companies doled out more than $800 million in 6,500 consulting agreements with doctors between 2002 and 2006.

The three makers of heart defibrillators and pacemakers -- Medtronic, Boston Scientific Corp. and St. Jude Medical Corp. -- have received subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney's office in Massachusetts, according to documents filed with the Securities Exchange Commission. The documents sought information about how the companies market heart devices, which comprise a $10 billion industry with deep ties to the Twin Cities.

For now, the most intense spotlight appears to be trained on the spine device industry, one of the fastest growing in medical technology, thanks to the 25 million Americans suffering from back pain.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and Sen. Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat, have sponsored a bill to open the payments to public scrutiny. Last fall, the bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee, where Grassley is the ranking member.

The same month, Grassley wrote to Medtronic CEO Bill Hawkins, requesting information about the company's financial relationship with 15 of the country's top spine surgeons. Among them: the university's Polly.

"As you know,'' Grassley wrote, "[Medtronic] has been accused of paying doctors exorbitant amounts of money to encourage the use and promotion of its products." Grassley said he was "disturbed" by the allegations.

In a statement last week, Grassley said: "I've asked questions directly of Medtronic. My investigative staff is reviewing documents that have been provided, and I await additional information and a full response from the company."

Huge profits are at stake as companies attempt to persuade doctors to use their devices.

Each year, some 500,000 U.S. spine fusion surgeries -- a common, yet often controversial, procedure to stabilize the spine -- are performed on patients, many in desperate pain.

The markup on products used in these procedures is often dramatic. A pedicle screw used in spine surgery may cost $60 or $100 to make, but the discounted price hospitals pay for the product is about $1,100, according to Orthopedic Network News, an industry newsletter. While highly complicated surgeries may use 40 screws, a more typical fusion operation uses four to six, plus other devices, according to Stan Mendenhall, the newsletter's editor. Medicare and most private insurers pay for the bulk of the procedure.

At a congressional hearing where he testified this year, Demske cited research that although doctors believe stock options, royalty agreements and research grants don't influence their medical decisions, in reality, they do.


Beverly Hemmingson spends her summer days watching others swim, ski and fish on Wabana Lake at her resort, Birch Bay, near Grand Rapids, Minn. Following spine surgery by Polly five years ago, Hemmingson, 74, is paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair.

"Most days, I just sit,'' she says.

Two years after her 2003 spine surgery, Hemmingson filed a malpractice lawsuit against Polly in Hennepin County District Court. The complaint alleged that the surgical procedure used by Polly was "inherently high risk" and caused trauma to her spinal cord.

But it was more than a standard malpractice complaint. It also claimed that Polly's consulting arrangement with Medtronic "was substantial enough to have potentially clouded [his] judgment," causing him to use the company's products when they may not have been in Hemmingson's best interest.

Polly's lawyers denied the malpractice allegations, saying that the care he extended Hemmingson was within "accepted standards of medical practice," and that his contractual relationship with Medtronic was "irrelevant." They described Hemmingson as a patient with numerous health concerns who had undergone multiple back operations before her surgery with Polly.

The case was ultimately settled, its terms confidential. Hemmingson returned to Birch Bay last fall after two years in a nursing home. When told that her situation has resurfaced in a federal whistleblower lawsuit in Massachusetts, she was flabbergasted.

Three pages of the 67-page complaint in the federal lawsuit (which names 113 surgeons) are devoted to Polly, who retired from the U.S. Army as chief of orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. before coming back to Minnesota.

In a September 2005 deposition of Polly in Hemmingson's case, he said his consulting relationship with Medtronic began in October 2003, after he left the military. In it, he characterized his work as a company consultant as "varied. ... I'm asked to teach at courses, to provide instrumentation, and on conceptual approaches to spinal problems."

Using devices off-label

A genetically engineered Medtronic surgical product called the Infuse Bone Graft provides much of the grist of the Massachusetts whistleblower lawsuit aimed at Polly and other surgeons.

At issue is whether the company's consulting arrangements with doctors encourage use of Infuse in ways not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Sophisticated medical devices must be approved by expert panels of the FDA before being sold in the United States. Typically, medical device companies sponsor clinical trials on patients to make sure a device is safe and effective.

But sometimes patients can be successfully treated using a device "off-label" -- that is, in a way not approved by the FDA. Doctors are free to use the devices beyond the scope of what the FDA approved, but companies may not market the devices for uses beyond those approved. The FDA does not track off-label use, a spokeswoman said.

Medtronic's Infuse Bone Graft is used in spine fusion surgery, permanently linking vertebrae. Before regulators approved Infuse in 2002, spine fusion required two surgeries -- one a painful harvest of bone from the hip, and a second to implant the bone inside thimble-like cages inserted into the spine. The idea is to promote bone growth between the vertebrae.

Infuse is approved for a single-level fusion in the lower back and other limited uses. But few doctors heed the FDA's mandate. That includes Polly in Hemmingson's case, according to the complaint in the whistleblower suit. Industry analysts estimate that 80 to 95 percent of Infuse use is off-label. Medtronic said in a statement it does not promote off-label use of Infuse, though it is aware that "physicians are free to prescribe Infuse for purposes other than the FDA-approved indications."

The Massachusetts suit claims that the consulting money paid to Polly and other surgeons encouraged use of Infuse in off-label ways potentially harmful to patients. Because these surgeons are seen as key opinion leaders in spine care, the suit maintains, their opinion would encourage other doctors to use the bone graft product in the same way.

"[Infuse] is a good product; it had good data when it was approved,'' said Dr. Charles Rosen, spine surgeon at the University of California, Irvine, and the founder of the Association for Ethics in Spine Surgery. "It definitely was a boon to spine surgery. If someone is using it off-label, I don't have an issue with it, unless they're getting a kickback for using it.''

September 5, 2008

The Headless Horseman Feeds Us Green Eggs and Spam

The beginning of term message from OurLeader is now on UTube. We were spammed Tuesday on the first day of classes. At least they are learning something, as the last time greeting Spam was cut was about a month after classes started.

At least three of my friends sent me a link hoping to incite me to riot on this latest public relations stunt. They succeeded. The contents of this video are appalling.

First we are treated to what one of my friends describes as the headless horseman. No doubt those Driven to Discover dudes are attempting artsy disclosure here, but it comes off as an amateurish job where OurLeader seems to have been decapitated.

headlesshorseman.jpg

For the next part of the video we are treated to watching OurLeader riding around in circles by himself. Once again, art imitates life.

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OurLeader then proceedes to show us either mockups or partially constructed new buildings for much of the video and brags about the large amount of money raised for research.

Notice the ghostly outlines of people early in the video.

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Are these students who chose a higher-ranking university?

Also included is a picture of a wind-turbine. This is odd because the only wind-turbine I know about is in Morris. OurLeader might want to consult the President of the University of Minnesota, Morris, for help in implementing his green plans. I understand she has testified before Congress earlier this year on the matter. Maybe BigU could learn something from Morris?

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Last I heard we had a steam generation plant running on fossil fuel.
I got in a little skirmish over this earlier in the year.

An amazing claim is made that can be seen in the caption to the picture below:

greencampus.jpg

Now this is typical of administrative propaganda. What exactly does this mean? Judged by whom? Does it mean we'd like to be green or we talk about being green? Do we try to stimulate the green ethic on campus?

From OurLeaders talk, one might think that we were one of the leading centers of university green activity on the planet. Not so. Our Purdue colleagues certainly seem to have a little better handle on all of this. Maybe we could learn something from them?

From Purdue University:

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Discovery Park will promote a series of events during Purdue University's Green Week designed to spark discussion on the role climate change, the environment and alternative energy researchers can play to solve the global energy problem.

Several guest lectures, organized by the Energy Center, Center for the Environment and the Purdue Climate Change Research Center, are planned for Sept. 19 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by a town hall forum from 2:30-4 p.m. Purdue's Green Week runs from Sept. 15-19.

"We cannot address the grand challenges of environment and climate change in a silo. Global energy needs must enter the discussion," said event organizer John Bickham, director of the Center for Environment and professor of forestry and natural resources. "These Purdue centers are now focused on how these challenges converge."

The events, which will be in Purdue's Stewart Center, are free and open to the public. The lineup for Sept. 19 includes talks by:

* James Hurrell, senior scientist and director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, from 8-9 a.m. in Room 218-AB. A Purdue graduate, Hurrell leads the center's Climate and Global Dynamics Division, which partners with universities and researchers to explore the atmosphere and its relationship with the sun, oceans, the biosphere and humans.

* David Hawkins, director of climate programs at the National Resources Defense Council, from 9-10 a.m. in Room 218-AB. An expert on coal technology and carbon capture and storage, he has spent three decades with the National Resources Defense Council researching clean air, energy and now climate change. He served with the Environmental Protection Agency as assistant administrator for Air, Noise and Radiation in President Carter's administration from 1977-81.

* Eugene Brower, former mayor of North Slope Borough, Alaska, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. in Room 218-AB. Brower was born in Barrow, Alaska, grew up living a subsistence-based lifestyle and has been a whaler for 50 years. He is now president of the Barrow Whaling Captains' Association.

* John Wall, a top executive at Columbus, Ind.-based engines and power generation systems manufacturer Cummins Inc., from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Room 218-AB. Wall, a graduate in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, joined Cummins in 1986 and now serves as the company's vice president and chief technical officer. He also is an expert in engine technology and the effects of diesel fuel on exhaust emissions.

The town forum, which runs from 2:30-4 p.m. in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall, will include a summary of findings from the day's discussion and a question-and-answer session with several panelists from the morning lectures.


A poster session and reception, scheduled from 4-6:30 p.m. Sept. 18, is open to students, researchers and others from across campus and the community. Awards will be presented in three divisions: undergraduate, graduate and a category open to the entire community.

The Green Week activities on Sept. 18 and 19 are themed "Hot, Flat and Crowded: A Discussion - Research at the Intersection of Climate, Environment and Energy Technologies," in connection with the new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Thomas Friedman.

Green Week will culminate with a talk by Friedman at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Elliott Hall of Music. Tickets, which are free but required for his talk, are available at Elliott Hall. Friedman's new book, "Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America," will be released Monday (Sept. 8), and a book signing at Purdue is planned.

Green Week is being organized by the College of Engineering, including its Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering, Global Engineering Program, as well as the School of Mechanical Engineering, the Center for the Environment, Energy Center, Office of the Provost and the Purdue Climate Change Research Center.

Maybe we could use a little of that Driven to Discover money to do something like this at the U of M? Or use some of the five million dollars that has already been sunk into MoreU Park (aka Muscoplat's Folly)? Town Hall forums, campus wide discussion, conversations - aren't these a good thing, Tom? Bob?

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So have a nice term, Bob. I hope you have lots of time for doing the things you apparently enjoy - like riding around in circles.

(Don't forget: "Raise that tuition, dig that gravel, buy that Coke, push that credit card, sell that soul..." )


September 3, 2008

Party Hearty - OurLeader at the RNC

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports:

Medtronic RNC party draws 1,600


Tuesday, September 2, 2008 - 11:06 AM CDT | Modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 - 12:32 PM

About 90 percent of party-goers were associated with the delegation or other political officials, he said. However, top Medtronic corporate officials, including CEO WIlliam Hawkins, were on hand. University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks also was in attendance.

Medtronic transformed its headquarters into a party venue for the event, serving drinks from a large bar made entirely out of ice and setting up stages featuring live entertainment both inside the building and in the courtyard.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty made an appearance, giving a short stump speech for John McCain.


September 1, 2008

Is Concern for Due Process the Reason for Footdragging on the Jacko/Sainfort Situation?

From the Periodic Table

Here is a fine example, from the comments section of the Strib web site, of what passes for administrative logic at the U:

"So much for due process

Have they been charged, tried or convicted of anything either here or in Minnesota? No? Well that does it, then. They must be guilty. Whatever happened to getting your day in court?

posted by finne001 on Aug. 30, 08 at 5:30 AM

3 of 17 people liked this comment. Do you?"

Those so inclined can use the U of M people search and, use the "Search by" pulldown to choose Internet ID, then type in finne001 in the search field. Voila!

finne001, I think giving Sainfort and Jacko their day in court is exactly what needs to be done and as soon as possible.

Why don't you get right on this? Maybe a little better job of vetting in the first place would have saved us a lot of trouble? Whose responsibility was that?

Duke was apparently a little more cautious in vetting Sainfort for a deanship.

Do you think that we have enough evidence to proceed on our own based on the Regent's policy on double dipping?

Do you think that since last April, our ace university counsel, Mark Rotenberg, may have gotten sorted out whether, at any time, these folks were getting two paychecks for the same pay period?

Somehow this doesn't seem to be a very difficult thing to establish. There are income tax records. Under appropriate circumstances they may be obtained either voluntarily or otherwise. See Mark Rotenberg for further information - that's his job.

Or perhaps we should try something really novel and ask them? Someone apparently did this last February at Georgia Tech and the response did not seem truthful. Maybe more honest results could be obtained under oath? Ask Mark Rotenberg - that's his job.

You don't have to wait for Georgia Tech or the Georgia Attorney General's office to begin proceedings. Don't try to hide lack of appropriate administrative action in this matter - very damaging to the U - behind a smokescreen of due process concern.

Unless finne001 suffers from identity theft, he is not exactly unbiased in this matter. The shop-worn (at the U of M) phrase "conflict of interest" comes to mind.

By all means Jacko and Sainfort should be afforded due process - that is not the issue here and finne001 should know it.

Here's a legal aphorism to chew on: "Justice delayed is justice denied."

Maybe Sainfort and Jacko are deliberately being allowed to twist slowly in the wind
so that they will do the right thing - for the administration - and just leave? Thus saving our various deans and provosts further embarrassment without having to admit their own contribution to this fiasco.

Wouldn't be the first time...