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Readers should be forgiven if they are left confused by last week’s Detroit News article under the sensational headline, "FBI corruption team hovers as politics roil Wayne State" (Oct. 30). Even to those who follow the unfortunate public conflict at the university, it must seem like a mixture of jargon and accusations with a few facts thrown in creating a semblance of veracity.

Before I was elected to the Wayne State University Board of Governors, I served as a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. In that capacity, I was called upon to separate fact from fiction and to sift the truth from confusing and competing information, some of which was laden with emotional appeal disguised as valid argument. 

While my preference is that the Wayne board debate the issues before it vigorously and openly, I am concerned that unchecked fiction published in the media can be mistaken for fact. In the context of the News article, such fiction is potentially harmful to the reputation of our university and to its president, M. Roy Wilson, who I believe is doing an excellent job.

First, I know of no corruption FBI team “hovering” over Wayne State. To say so in a headline is inaccurate given that no one in the administration, to my knowledge, has been contacted by the FBI. One must read deeply into the News article to see that there is “no indication that the FBI has opened a formal investigation.” Perhaps that would have been a more accurate headline.

The article made several references to allegations against the university from a lawsuit filed in the state Court of Claims by University Physicians (UP), a separate physician practice group under the Tenant Healthcare Corp. umbrella. There is no mention of the fact that there are legitimate competing allegations, or that this litigation was precipitated by another lawsuit filed by Wayne State against UP for withholding from the university more than $18 million in pediatricians’ salary reimbursement.

Finally, it distresses me that I must publicly disagree with my colleague, Dr. Michael Busuito, that the “shambles” of the University Physicians’ Group (UPG) was caused by the “Wilson-Hefner regime,” or that it can be brought “back together” and run “efficiently like it had been years ago.” 

I reviewed the financial records of UPG. The practice group was losing millions of dollars beginning in 2014 and suffered a loss of nearly $13 million in 2015, the year Busuito served as chair of the UPG. It was through the actions of Wilson and others — including David Hefner — that this extreme financial disorder was discovered and corrected. Time and a long, costly bankruptcy were needed to steady the enterprise.

In this case, going back to the past is neither wise nor possible. I hope, instead, that Busuito and the other members of the board of Wayne State apply themselves to working together in the interest of advancing the interests of the university and the people it serves.

Marilyn Kelly, vice chair

Wayne State University Board of Governors

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