Education

Audit: UI psychiatrist didn't report side business

Campus had questioned how professor was spending his time

The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top l
The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top left), Jessup Hall (bottom left), Schaeffer Hall (top right), and MacLean Hall (bottom right) in an aerial photograph in Iowa City on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — A recently retired University of Iowa Health Care psychiatrist and part-owner of a private psychotherapy institute for years didn’t disclose the conflict and failed to properly report at least 1,024 hours of leave he took for reasons outside his UI obligations, a state audit requested by the university found.

Scott Stuart, a professor in the UI Department of Psychiatry, told his supervisor Aug. 30 that after 28 years he was retiring and that his last day would be Aug. 31. The notice came more than a year after UI officials flagged concerns with how he was spending his time, prompting auditors to investigate.

“Since I have far exceeded the service requirements required by the university and I am retiring in good standing, I will be continuing with the university as a professor emeritus with all of the benefits to which that position is entitled,” Stuart wrote in his letter.

He currently is listed in the UI directory as a professor emeritus and was making a salary of $172,186 in March 2019. He also is listed as director of the Coralville-based Interpersonal Psychotherapy Institute LLC — for which he filed documentation in April 2011 with the Iowa Secretary of State.

Although Stuart had been working at UIHC for nearly two decades by that time — starting in 1993 and advancing to full professor in 2004 — he didn’t disclose his side business until May 4, 2018, after UI officials raised concerns about his use of time, according to auditor report being made public today.

“Documentation we reviewed and university officials we spoke with reported concerns had been raised in late 2017 and/or early 2018 regarding documentation of Dr. Stuart’s time spent supervising residents performing clinical work,” according to the audit. “Concerns were also identified regarding Dr. Stuart’s other supervisory responsibilities and actions.”

UI officials discovered Stuart’s relationship with the IPT Institute and told auditors.

But because the state, in following up on the concerns, had to rely on Stuart and only limited available documentation, the audit noted its findings “may not be complete and additional leave time may have remained unreported.”

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Additionally, State Auditor Rob Sand reported the UI incurred at least $7,491.90 for nearly 66 hours of unreported leave paid out to Stuart when he retired.

Upon learning of Stuart’s role with IPT Institute, campus administrators created plans to manage the conflict as is required under university policy. But the UI later reached out to the National Institutes of Health, which awarded Stuart research grants, to ask the federal agency to terminate them “effective immediately in June 2019 as a result of determining his financial conflict of interest could not be managed.”

As a faculty member, Stuart’s primary activities related to research of interpersonal psychology and perinatal psychiatry — performing clinical duties and focusing on postpartum depression.

As part of his research, Stuart collaborated with others, routinely attending conferences in Australia and Europe while also visiting California and Nevada.

Although Stuart didn’t disclose his conflicts according to UI policy, he did include information about IPT on his applications for NIH grants.

The audit chided UI officials for failing to catch that in their review of the grant applications.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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