Education

UK banned a surgeon, said he was abusive. His colleagues elected him to help lead them.

Dr. Paul Kearney at his 2015 tribunal in which his clinical privileges at UK were revoked. This month, Kearney’s colleagues elected him to the UK College of Medicine faculty council.
Dr. Paul Kearney at his 2015 tribunal in which his clinical privileges at UK were revoked. This month, Kearney’s colleagues elected him to the UK College of Medicine faculty council. Herald-Leader staff file photo

In 2015, the University of Kentucky stripped surgeon Paul Kearney of clinical privileges, saying his long career had been full of abusive behavior to colleagues, staff and students.

His colleagues apparently disagree: last week, Kearney was elected to the College of Medicine faculty council for a three-year term. He’s also serving on the campus-wide University Senate after being elected shortly after his privileges were revoked.

The 12-member faculty council is a liaison between medical faculty and the administration and must approve numerous educational and policy matters or changes. The seats are voted on by the roughly 900 members of the medical school faculty. Kearney previously served on the council between 2011 and 2014.

The University Senate oversees academic matters for the entire campus.

Although Kearney is not allowed to practice medicine at UK, he is tenured faculty. He has also filed a whistleblower lawsuit against UK, alleging that after a 27-year career at UK HealthCare, he was punished only after he started to question financial practices there. At various hearings on his case, Kearney was joined by large groups of colleagues, former students and supporters, many of whom said Kearney was tough but fair.

UK officials declined to comment on the election. Shortly after he lost privileges, UK officials said Kearney could not speak to medical students or go to clinical areas of the hospital.

“I am honored that I was elected by my faculty colleagues to represent their interests on the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Faculty Council,” Kearney said in a statement. “The faculty are well aware of my litigation with the university. They also know that I am a staunch supporter of the faculty and will speak freely and forcefully on their behalf.”

Kearney’s case was the first time a doctor has been fully stripped of clinical privileges in the medical center’s 50-year history.

“I am delighted that Dr. Kearney has been again elected from his 900 college faculty peers to represent them on the Faculty Council, despite the central administration’s ceaseless efforts to destroy his career at UK,” fellow council member Davy Jones said.

Linda Blackford: 859-231-1359, @lbblackford

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