Education

He won $620,000 from UK for unlawful firing. Now he’ll lead a new UK health program.

UK dentist files lawsuit: ‘What I experienced has no place in our state’

UK faculty has sued UK and a Bevin administration official for what he calls retaliation for criticizing the governor's Medicaid waiver proposal.
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UK faculty has sued UK and a Bevin administration official for what he calls retaliation for criticizing the governor's Medicaid waiver proposal.

A University of Kentucky dentistry professor who recently won a large payout from the school after he was fired will return to post-retirement employment as a professor and director of a new oral health initiative.

Raynor Mullins, 74, a long-time researcher of oral health issues in Appalachia, settled with UK shortly before his lawsuit was due to go to trial in federal court. UK will pay him $620,000 and agreed to create a new position for him working on oral health.

Mullins sued UK in 2017 for curtailing his First Amendment rights after he was pushed out, allegedly for publicly criticizing Gov. Matt Bevin’s Medicaid waiver because it reduced dental coverage.

In the settlement, UK did not admit that College of Dentistry Dean Stephanos Kyrkanides had pushed Mullins out for his comments, despite numerous depositions from witnesses who heard Kyrkanides say that Mullins had to go.

In agreeing to allow the lawsuit to go to trial, U.S. District Judge Judge Robert Weir called the case “the epic story of academic intrigue and the place of free speech.”

According to a letter from UK Provost David Blackwell, Mullins will receive an 18-month appointment starting Jan. 1, 2019 as a professor of dental public health and director of the Oral Health Innovation Initiative in the College of Public Health. As director, Mullins will be expected to coordinate a cross-disciplinary team to develop a strategic plan for the Oral Health Innovation Initiative., which will receive $100,000 in start-up funding.

Mullins will be paid $52,800 for working 40 percent of a full-time job.

“Dr. Mullins is excited to lead this new Oral Health Innovation Initiative, and believes it will lead to long term gains for the health of Kentuckians,” said Joe Childers, Mullins’ attorney. “It is truly a win-win for both Dr. Mullins and the University of Kentucky.”

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