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Read Details Of The $1.15 Million Settlement Between U of L And Controversial Exec

University of Louisville
University of Louisville

Although David Dunn left the University of Louisville earlier this month under the cloud of an FBI investigation, his boss offered him a positive reference letter along with a $1.15 million buyout.

According to the settlement agreement obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, the former executive vice president of health affairs gave up his tenure and promised not to sue the university or make open records requests.

Dunn also agreed to return university documents -- except those his attorneys might advise he keep. In return, U of L made a number of promises designed to protect the reputation of Dunn and his wife, Kelli Bullard Dunn, who still works at U of L.

Dunn went on paid administrative leave in December 2015 and continued to collect his $809,000 salary even after his contract expired in July. University officials acknowledged last year that the FBI was investigating Dunn and two other former U of L staffers in connection with their for-profit company. An FBI spokesman has refused to confirm or deny an investigation.

But acting university president Neville Pinto agreed to give Dunn a reference letter saying Dunn left the school in good standing, according to the settlement.

The letter will be based on Dunn’s performance reviews from start of his employment in 2011 through his last review in 2015. Dunn and the university also can’t disparage one another, an agreement that extends to members of the U of L Board of Trustees and Dunn’s wife.

All university presidents, vice presidents and deans, and several other staffers, are also prevented from voluntarily offering information that would cause Dunn to be held in disrepute.

That agreement also protects Kelli Bullard Dunn, a colorectal surgeon and U of L vice dean for community engagement, from any harm related to “any of her actions or omissions” before the agreement was signed.

Among those forbidden from disparaging her are the chair and vice chair of the department of surgery, where she works; the director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center; and her husband’s replacement as interim executive vice president for health affairs, which oversees her department.

The Dunns could not be immediately reached for comment.

Read the whole settlement here.

Kate Howard can be reached at  khoward@kycir.org and (502) 814.6546. 

Disclosures: In 2015, the University of Louisville, which for years has donated to Louisville Public Media, earmarked $3,000 to KyCIR as part of a larger LPM donation. University board member Stephen Campbell and former member Sandra Frazier have donated.

Kate Howard is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.