Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's almost as if the University of California wants to sow the seeds for another scandal.

Comment 8 on that story begins "I am not saying someone who was fired due to “financial irregularities” (i.e. fraud) should not be offered a job. Even an ex-convict deserves a second chance.."

That's completely reasonable, in my opinion.

The problem here was not in offering Dr. Jonathan Lakey a job. In my opinion, the problem with UCI hiring Dr. Lakey is that the University of California has taken no serious steps to compensate for past scandals before bringing on a researcher with even more baggage. Perhaps it would be better for all concerned if the University of California had demonstrated a stronger committment to stamping out fraud before hiring someone with an alleged history of fraud. Firing the people who were responsible for "fraudulently conceal[ing] information" (see the link here) in the ongoing (apparently since the 1980s!) fertility clinic scandal might have been a sign that the University of California is actually aiming for cleanliness. By contrast, the University did fire Dr. Glenn Prevost, the anestheologist who, in my opinon, tried to fix one of the problems that made up the liver transplant scandal. And now they've hired Dr. Lakey, who was recently allegedly fired elsewhere for fraud.

It's not about hiring Dr. Lakey. It's about the whole pattern.

Hiring Dr. Lakey may be questionable, but I'm certainly not writing that Dr. Lakey should not have been hired. What I am writing is that Dr. Lakey's hiring, in the absence of serious attempts to fix the University's "culture of noncompliance with the law" (a quote from an NIH investigation) illustrates, again, how the University's priorities clearly do not seem to include serious attempts to avoid future scandals.

Refusing to hire someone with baggage, like Dr. Lakey, certainly might not have been the best plan to address the issue of UC scandals. The fact, however, that Dr. Lakey was hired brings attention to the fact that the University of California appears to have implemented exactly no serious plans to address it's ongoing problems.

Why has the University of California set its priorities so? I don't know. As before, the title of this blog is "trying to make sense of (some of) it all." I'm trying to make sense of all this, but I'm really not suceeding.

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