Outgoing UND President Blames Racism, Sexism for Personal Assistant Controversy

UND President Mark Kennedy and his assistant Angelique Foster Photo via UND

Earlier today UND President Mark Kennedy made his departure from that institution official. He’s accepting a new job in Colorado.

The end of Kennedy’s tenure was a bit rocky thanks to a story I broke about his personal assistant, Angelique Foster, getting a massive raise as well as a $30,000 per year allowance to commute to her job from Texas.

After widespread criticism Kennedy opted to end the arrangement. Now Kennedy is telling a Colorado media outlet he believes racism and sexism were behind the criticism:

Kennedy told the Daily Camera that the world should embrace remote working, but he doesn’t think that was at the heart of the criticism.

“I fear that part of the reason that that article got as much attention as it did is some people couldn’t understand how a young African-American woman from the South could be as qualified and worthy” to do the job as others, he said. “I’m quite confident it is about more than remote working.”

That accusation seems more than a little self-serving.

I don’t think one need to plumb the depths of racial or gender based bigotry to conclude that a university, which has undergone dramatic budget cuts in recent years thanks to falling state revenues, maybe shouldn’t be spending be dropping $30k per year on flying the president’s personal assistant back and forth from Texas.

It was a poor management choice, but rather than be accountable for it Kennedy would rather cast aspersions at his critics.

UPDATE: From the Grand Forks Herald:

The Daily Camera posted that story online after the Herald spoke with Kennedy during a noon meeting via telephone. Later, the Herald asked for clarification. UND spokeswoman Meloney Linder said Kennedy was not available to speak further, but said Kennedy “understands there were many factors that people considered” about the Foster controversy.

UPDATE:

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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