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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Students should be the Med School’s first priority, not an expensive chauffeur service

Sam Rodriguez

Leadership at the UA College of Medicine is under accusation of mishandling tax dollars and other administrative issues that need to be addressed swiftly and with no mercy to those at fault.

It’s not entirely clear exactly what is happening or whether all relevant details have come out, but two of the most obvious and apparent details are the following: 

  1. Dr. Stuart Flynn, the former dean of the College of Medicine-Phoenix campus, and multiple other top leaders of the school inexplicably resigned to work for a new medical school in Texas. 
  2. It’s been revealed that Dr. Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, vice president for UA’s Health Sciences, enjoys upgrading his airplane seats when traveling and taking unnecessary chauffeured vehicles when commuting from Phoenix to Tucson — all on the taxpayer dime.

There has to be something wrong here.

RELATED: Dean of the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix moves on

Flynn served as dean of the school from 2008 into 2016 and played massive roles in growing the student body and successfully educating hundreds of future doctors. It’s odd that someone experiencing noteworthy success would give that up for something new that could ultimately fail to provide for one equally as well.

Granted, maybe Flynn viewed the new school as a wealth of potential and felt that the move would likely be beneficial. But it’s another major red flag that five of his closest and top team members would follow suit. According to the Arizona Medical Association, the group departure of a dean and so much of his/her staff is unprecedented. What could the school have done to drive off some of its most integral leaders?

But even more troubling to taxpayers is the report about Garcia’s travel funds. His luxury trips across the desolate highway that connects Phoenix to Tucson can cost an upward of $475 a trip – over $300 more than it would cost to drive a personal car himself. On top of that, the man made $870,000 last year in base salary and bonuses; if you can easily afford the unnecessary expenditures, there’s absolutely no justification for using tax dollars instead.

UA President Ann Weaver Hart may not be a favorite of many UA students and faculty members due to the way she’s handled things in the past, but she’s certainly made the right move by calling for an independent legal investigation of the leadership of the UA medical schools. There cannot be questionable leadership in schools, especially at the highest administrative level. The individuals in charge have an impact on the futures of medical students trying to achieve their dream of helping other people. This impact on their future could easily become negative if the wrong people are trusted with the most responsibility.

RELATED: For-profit schools aren’t the devil

To be clear, any person acting in their own interest when that interest conflicts with the moral responsibility that comes with their position — for example, spending tax dollars on luxury experiences rather than appropriate expenses or engaging in other behaviors that drive away top leaders — should be fired or made to resign. These are problems that indicate poor administrative practice, and there’s no place for that in higher education. Corruption can’t be hidden behind closed doors or impressive titles. Educating students and enabling them to have success in their careers need to be the number one priority of the school and all those working there.

If the coming investigation reveals that the students are not being prioritized, via mishandling of tax dollars or any other possible administrative issues, then I expect Hart or the UA’s next president to fire those who are at fault. Simple as that.

Follow Rhiannon Bauer on Twitter.

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