Department head removed after investigation of slain UConn School of Medicine professor reveals negligence

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Herbst said in a statement that this lack of departmental oversight is not representative of how UConn operates. (File/The Daily Campus)

Herbst said in a statement that this lack of departmental oversight is not representative of how UConn operates. (File/The Daily Campus)

Dr. Melinda Sanders has been removed as the head of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center after an internal investigation. The investigation revealed that Sanders acted in an “irresponsible manner” in failing to keep close contact with deceased professor Dr. Pierluigi Bigazzi.

A written report of UConn’s investigation noted that although Dr. Bigazzi was capable of the task, Dr. Sanders failed to create a written record of his assignment, created no timetable for the work to be done and gave no opportunity for Dr. Bigazzi’s work to be reviewed or edited.

Dr. Bigazzi was tasked with revising the curriculum for the UConn School of Medicine and was allowed to work remotely, according to the investigation. During this time, Bigazzi lost all contact with anyone at UConn Health and was found murdered in his home several months after making last contact.

Following the revelation of his death, UConn President Susan Herbst commissioned the internal investigation that was carried out by Interim Provost & EVP for Academic Affairs Jeremy Teitelbaum and Chief Human Resources Officer Christopher J. Delello.

Herbst said in a statement that this lack of departmental oversight is not representative of how UConn operates.

“No employee may be absent from work, with no communication with their supervisor, for months at a time. Communication and tight oversight are obviously fundamental to normal management,” Herbst said. “While this was an idiosyncratic and highly unusual managerial failure, the university will take steps to ensure that this never happens again.”

After completing the investigation, Teitelbaum and Delello shared their findings with Dean of the School of Medicine Dr. Bruce Liang, who has since removed Sanders from her role as department head, according to the investigation report.


Andrew Miano is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at andrew.miano@uconn.edu.

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