ITAM professor faces fine

Wrote book under aliases, profited off student sales

Courtesy of 
The cover of the book Bonner wrote using pseudonyms to evade campus policy.

Courtesy of The cover of the book Bonner wrote using pseudonyms to evade campus policy.

Sean Bessette, Editor-in-Chief

CWU professor Julie Bonner wrote and published a textbook using pseudonyms to receive and keep royalties from CWU students, and may be facing a fine greater than $500 as a result of it.

This is according to an anonymous news tip The Observer received of a Washington State Executive Ethics Board (WSEEB) investigative report.

“Interpreting, Understanding, and Managing the Numbers” is the book Bonner wrote but on the cover, the authors are named Thomas Markham and James Wilson. The usage of pseudonyms was to evade campus policy in which Bonner would have to pay royalties back to the university, according to the report.

In total, Bonner received $3,352.49 from sales of her book. According to the report, not all of the sales were to CWU students, so she therefore could not determine the exact earnings from students. 

On June 16, 2020, the WSEEB received a complaint alleging that Bonner may have violated the Ethics in Public Service Act. The act aims to avoid issues between the duties of state employees and their financial interests. On May 3, CWU Faculty Senate received a complaint that Bonner violated RCW 42.52.030, according to the report.

The Observer reached out to Faculty Senate Chair Greg Lyman for comment and he said he was unable to respond, citing its status as an active investigation. 

Additionally, The Observer reached out to Staci Sleigh-Layman, executive director of Human Resources and Bonner for comments and they didn’t respond.

It is unclear what the university disciplinary policy for a situation like this would be. Bonner is currently slated to instruct one class next quarter, ITAM 461, according to class availability on MyCWU. Bonner was first hired by CWU in the Information Technology and Administrative Management (ITAM) department in 2015.

In early spring 2019, Bonner discussed writing a book with Gloria Gauron, a faculty member in the ITAM department, according to the report. In the report, Gauron indicated that Bonner was angry about CWU’s policy of having to give back royalties. At the time, Gauron agreed to co-author the book.

Gauron ended up only reviewing a couple of chapters of the book and provided feedback on some typos, according to the report. This was the end of Gauron’s involvement with the book. 

According to emails in the report, Bonner told her ITAM colleagues that she found a new textbook without indicating she was the author. Bonner suggested that she requested and recommended that other ITAM instructors use her textbook as the required textbook for their courses.

On Sept. 5, 2019, Bonner applied for copyright for the book to the U.S. Copyright Office, as stated in the report.

Bonner indicated to the WSEEB staff that she wrote the book under pseudonyms because she has tried to write books before and thought there could be bias against women writing on the subject. 

The CWU Bookstore records showed that 115 copies of the book had been sold to students for $19.99 each between the first term of 2020 and the third term of 2021 in the report.

The bookstore conducted a copyright inquiry to determine the copyright status and authorship, according to the report.

Bonner shared a letter from the CWU Foundation with the WSEEB staff on Aug. 24, thanking her for her $3,300 donation, $52.49 short of her earnings from the book. The donation was split two ways. $1,650 went to the Dean of Student Success and $1,650 went to the Student Emergency Fund, according to the report.

Towards the end of the report, Kate Reynolds, executive director of the WSEEB, recommended that the Board enter a finding of reasonable cause to believe a violation or violations of RCW 42.52 occurred and the penalty may be more than $500, dated Nov. 12.