Five months after UNLV launched its new medical school, the chief of staff authorized a $50,000 payment to her college friend for consulting services.
But little to no marketing deliverables were produced.
A series of emails beginning in February 2017 and obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal through a public records request shows how Maureen Schafer, former chief of staff for the medical school, hired Ernest Lupinacci as a branding and marketing consultant for the new school of medicine, all the while serving as his direct supervisor and skirting policies and procedures to pay him.
“I don’t know what he did,” said Chuck Johnston, managing partner and president of B&P Advertising, a Las Vegas marketing firm with which UNLV was also working. “I still don’t know what he did. We’ve worked with UNLV for 14 years and have a long-standing relationship with them. It was kind of a strange situation.”
Over a series of months, emails show UNLV officials and others questioning the payment amount, the contract and the quality of work performed.
Schafer, now UNLV’s director of special projects for government affairs, said in a statement to the Review-Journal that she used a “streamlined method to acquire professional services and minimize bureaucracy” in an effort to keep the school “on track with an expedited timeline,” while also noting Lupinacci’s experience working with Fortune 500 companies. The university refused to say why Schafer was reassigned, but said she began her new role on Dec. 19.