North Dakota University Presidents Get “Reminder” About Policies Prohibiting Retaliation Against Whistle Blowers


North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark R. Hagerott visits with the Editorial Board August 24 at the Grand Forks Herald. Jesse Trelstad/ Grand Forks Herald

Earlier today I wrote about a state lawmaker Emily O’Brien, a former University of North Dakota employee who feels she was treated unprofessionally by superiors there because of political biases. Specifically she says Provost Thomas DiLorenzo made disparaging comments about Republican lawmakers, generally, and was upset that O’Brien specifically defeated former lawmaker and North Dakota Democratic Party chairwoman Kylie Oversen in the 2016 election.

Meanwhile in Wahpeton, at the North Dakota State School of Science, campus employees and faculty have been complaining about the leadership of President John Richman. Among the serious accusations against him is the idea that, under his administration, a space utilization study was manipulated to create an inaccurate picture for state lawmakers and bolster a push for an enlargement of the institution’s Fargo campus Richman has been desirous of for some time. There are currently auditors in Wahpeton looking at that situation.

That’s all interesting context for an email North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott sent out to university presidents recently as a “reminder” of state law, as well as NDUS policies, which prohibit retaliation against employees who “blow the whistle” on what they perceive as problems:

The email was provided to me by a source. I contacted Chancellor Hagerott about it this afternoon and he confirmed the email.

“I sent that out to remind people that even if their name is released they’re protected by these policies,” he told me. Hagerott declined to say whether the email was prompted by any situation in particular.

I should note that the NDUS does operate a fraud hotline where problems, including “tampering with data,” can be reported. Reports can be anonymous, but if a name is given it can be divulged at some point in the future. After something like 75 days, I believe.