Former CSU President Albert C. Yates was ordered to pay $184,130 to a CSU accounting professor who was removed from his department after calling for an inquiry into another professor’s alleged ethical abuses, a federal jury determined Tuesday.
Also found guilty in the ruling was Daniel Costello, former dean of CSU’s College of Business, who was ordered to pay $334,130 to Myron Hulen, the professor who filed the lawsuit.
“We’re shocked and disappointed by the verdict,” said CSU spokesman Tom Milligan.
The case arose when Hulen and four other professors accused professor William G. Mister of ethical abuses including plagiarism, kickbacks from textbook publishers and verbal abuse toward students.
Hulen’s lawsuit alleged that Yates and Colangelo covered up the allegations against Mister, and then retaliated against the whistle-blowing professors by transferring them out of their areas of scholarship. Mister was not named in the lawsuit. Hulen said he believes Mister has reformed his practices.
“I think the verdict was obvious and just,” Hulen said. “An injustice was done and the jury saw fit to remedy that.”
The total award of $518,000, along with legal fees in the 5-year-old case, will be paid by the state Office of Risk Management, according to a Thursday Denver Post article. That office is funded by premiums paid by tax-supported state agencies.
However, it is too early to consider the lawsuit’s financial consequences, said Cathy Greer, the attorney representing the university in the case.
“It’s premature because there hasn’t been a decision about whether there will be an appeal, and we’re still determining what, if any, post-trial motions will be filed by the deadline the court has set,” Greer said.
That deadline is Sept. 4.
“I think taxpayers should be outraged,” Hulen said. “The basic problem that underlies this action is that the university has no incentive to fix a problem like this when it is first identified. Instead it is sometimes in the university’s interest to stonewall and force the problem to court because as soon as a lawsuit is filed, financial responsibility is transferred to the state.”
Laurence Pendleton, associate general counsel for the university, said CSU works hard to resolve conflicts within the university.
“The university strives, and is most often successful, in resolving disputes internally, both through informal and formal grievance processes,” Pendleton said, although he was not referring to any specific case.
The federal judge in the case has not yet ruled whether Hulen will be allowed to resume his regular teaching curriculum. Since his transfer Hulen has been allowed to teach one undergraduate accounting class. He was also assigned to teach a freshman orientation class.
“Ethically, I did the right thing and I would probably do it the same way again,” Hulen said.