TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, May 19, 2018

University Of Kentucky Moves To Fire Tenured Professor For Assigning His Book In His Classes And Keeping The $6k Royalties

UK Logo (2018)Lexington Herald Leader, UK Moves to Fire Professor, Says Book Sales 'Stole From Students.' He Vows to Fight.:

University of Kentucky officials are trying to fire a tenured professor because they say he made students buy his book for classes he taught and then kept the proceeds without telling administrators.

The move against journalism faculty Buck Ryan – who was sanctioned for inappropriate behavior in 2016 — is nearly unprecedented for tenured faculty in the last 50 years at UK, and will be a test of UK’s tenure policies and procedures.

But UK struck a tough stance, with Provost David Blackwell saying in a statement to the Herald-Leader that Ryan “stole from students. And he used university resources to do it.” ...

Buck RyanAn internal audit alleges Ryan had made his self-published book, "Writing Baby, Editing Dog and You: A Friendly Place to Begin Your Writing,” required reading for his students since 2009 and had made about $6,000 in royalties. The book cost $30 per copy. UK policy requires special administrative permission before professors can use their own books in their classes and also requires any royalties to be donated to the school or a charity.  ...

According to UK regulations, professors that want to use their own books in their classes must petition the department for permission, which the audit says Ryan did not do. Faculty must also get permission from the dean of their college. The dean must then decide “whether or not another available textbook could reasonably substitute for the book being proposed for the course."

If permission is received, then faculty are not allowed to profit from sales to students. The regulation says: “All royalties from the sale of the self-authored textbook to UK students must be accounted for by the UK employee and donated to the university, a charitable organization or another educational institution.” ...

The audit states that Ryan paid no money in royalties to UK, but made $6,060. ... Ryan said he did actually donate the $6,060. "I have donated royalties to the university on two occasions not mentioned in the report, to charitable organizations, including my church and the Governor's School for the Arts, and other educational institutions, including my children's schools, such as Christ the King School, Lexington Catholic High School and Centre College," he wrote. "Profits from the sale of Writing Baby have gone to good causes, and I have not exploited the platform of my professorship; I have been teaching students to improve their writing.

"I have been upfront and clear with my intentions, submitted my Writing Baby book and syllabi for review, and received positive merit reviews without objections to Writing Baby in any regard. I have even been the subject of a Kentucky Kernel article about professors who donate proceeds from their required textbooks for good causes."

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2018/05/university-of-kentucky-moves-to-fire-tenured-professor-for-assigning-his-book-to-his-class-and-keepi.html

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Comments

I wonder what battle royale in his department he's on the wrong side of.

Posted by: Art Deco | May 19, 2018 12:18:27 PM

Step 1: Start charity
Step 2: Donate $6,060 to charity each year
Step 3: Receive payment for services from charity
Step 4: Profit!

Posted by: Anon | May 20, 2018 5:44:32 AM

Why are academic disputes so very bitter.

Because so little is at stake.

Posted by: Edo | May 21, 2018 8:28:41 AM

If the book is good and is only $30, then he does the students a favor in a world where most textbooks exceed $100.

Posted by: Mark P Yablon | May 27, 2018 7:57:38 AM