A University of Kentucky dean who was removed after UK settled a contentious lawsuit filed by one of his underlings has now sued the school himself, accusing officials of retaliating against him for reporting problems at the College of Dentistry, such as the theft of gold dental crowns.
Late last year, UK settled a lawsuit with Raynor Mullins, a long-time dental professor who accused Kyrkanides of firing him after he criticized Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed changes to Medicaid. UK paid Mullins more than $620,000 and gave him a new position. A few weeks later, UK announced that Kyrkanides was out as dean, but would return as a tenured faculty member after a one-year sabbatical. UK did not give a reason for the demotion at the time.
Kyrkanides’ lawsuit, filed in federal court, doesn’t mention the Mullins case. Instead, the lawsuit cites numerous other problems that the dean allegedly uncovered. They include:
▪ A departmental deficit of almost $2 million because clinical faculty were being paid salary supplements based on gross revenue from clinical services, not net revenue. The lawsuit alleges Provost David Blackwell and other officials did nothing to address the dean’s concerns.
▪ Last summer, the lawsuit says, Kyrkanides forwarded to Blackwell allegations that College of Dentistry employees were stealing gold crowns and selling them, or converting them to gold coins. An internal investigation confirmed the theft, the lawsuit says, but the provost’s office did not address it.
Kyrkanides also contends he was retaliated against because he supported a group of minority students who said some faculty members discriminated against them. The lawsuit says Kyrkanides also filed a complaint with the UK Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity against Blackwell for harassment.
In a statement, UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the allegations are without merit.
“Provost David Blackwell removed Professor Kyrkanides from the administrative position of dean for poor performance,” Blanton said in a statement. “The university has addressed, or is addressing, all of the issues raised in his complaint, which Professor Kyrkanides failed to resolve himself when he was serving as dean.”
Citing a state whistleblower protection law, Kyrkanides’ lawsuit demands that he be reinstated as dean and get $7.5 million for humiliation, and a further $10 million in punitive damages.
H. Wayne Roberts, a Lexington attorney representing Kyrkanides, said the case has nothing to do with the Mullins settlement.
“I think the complaint states facts, not allegations, to support the whistleblower allegation,” Roberts said. “His accomplishments as a dean are awesome, the university demoting him to faculty is inexcusable. The university will be hard pressed to come up with non-retaliatory reasons for their actions.”