1. The allegations
Anthony DeFrancesco, a former University of Arizona health care executive, has filed a legal claim worth $10 million against the university. DeFrancesco alleges he was fired in retaliation by Dr. Michael Dake, the current senior vice president of UA Health Sciences, after DeFrancesco’s husband, the search committee co-chair, cautioned against Dake’s hiring. The claim also alleges that DeFrancesco was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation.
2. The Dake-Robbins connection
The claim, which was obtained via a public records request by the Arizona Daily Star, alleges that Dake was hired because of his close relationship with President Dr. Robert C. Robbins. Both Dake and Robbins worked at Stanford University for more than 20 years and, upon his hiring last year, Robbins called him a “pioneer” with a “visionary leadership style.” Dake implanted the world’s first thoracic stent-graft in 1992, according to his UA profile.
3. The Job
The senior vice president of Health Sciences is a powerful position, with a salary of $875,000, making him the highest paid employee outside of the athletics department, tied with the president himself. Head basketball coach Sean Miller and head football coach Kevin Sumlin make $2.3 million and $1.6 million, respectively.
4. Surgery scandals
The claim alleges Dake was not qualified and that he was “at or near the bottom” of the search committee’s ranking, according to the Star.Dake once performed an experimental surgical operation for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI, a theory that purports the cause of multiple sclerosis to be blocked veins that cause iron to “back up in the brain and damage nerves,” 2012 New York Times article.
He was the first surgeon to ever perform the operation and later sued by two other patients on whom he performed the experimental surgery. According to the Star, one patient died of a brain hemorrhage after the surgery. The lawyer who filed the 2012 lawsuit claimed “Dr. Dake conducted unproven, high-risk procedures on his patients to address a hypothetical condition that numerous medical experts either questioned or did not believe existed.”
5. Not the first senior vice president issue
Former senior vice president of Health Sciences, Joe “Skip” Garcia, abruptly stepped down from the position in 2016 after scrutiny surrounding the UA medical school in Phoenix. When the Phoenix dean Stuart Flynn left for a position in Texas, o did his senior staff, prompting concerns over Garcia’s leadership and an independent review by the Arizona Board of Regents. Garcia also came under fire for his expenses, when the Arizona Republic reported that he used a private chauffeur to take him back and forth from Phoenix to Tucson for $475 to $575 a trip.
Follow Claude Akins on Twitter