Rejected UND President Candidate Suggesting Gender Discrimination

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Cynthia Lindquist, the head of Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten, N.D., filed her application for the president position at the University of North Dakota three weeks after the initial deadline set by the search committee.

Her application was then rejected, with committee members questioning whether she has the experience necessary to manage a campus the size of UND (her current institution has about 250 enrolled students).

Lindquist is now hinting at possibly filing a lawsuit over gender discrimination.

Barring some new revelations, it sure doesn’t seem like Lindquist has much of a case. The reason the committee cited for rejecting her application is perfectly legitimate, UND has departments with larger budgets and more personnel than the entire institution she currently works for – and it’s hard to buy the idea that the committee is engaging in any sort of gender or racial discrimination when among the seven finalists are one woman and two racial minoritiesUPDATE: This doesn’t do much to help her cause either. In November the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits Cakdeska Cikana, placed the institution on probation.

That said, the search committee certainly didn’t help its cause any with some of the strange decisions they’ve made in this process.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]…the search committee certainly didn’t help its cause any with some of the strange decisions they’ve made in this process.[/mks_pullquote]

For one thing, they accepted several late applications after their initial deadline including Lindquist’s and that of one of the finalists, current Minot State University President Steve Shirley.

The committee should have set a deadline and stuck to it. At risk of dooming him with my endorsement I’ll say I’m glad Shirley put his application in – he has deep roots in North Dakota and an extensive history working within our state’s university system, both things desperately needed at the top level of the university system – but accepting it after the deadline and then moving him to the final round creates the perception that rules are being bent.

That’s not good.

For another thing, holding the interviews in far-off Minneapolis where few in the public can attend makes it look like the search committee is trying to hide something (something I’ve written about before). Their excuse is that it was easier and cheaper for the applicants to fly into an air travel hub like Minneapolis than to have them travel all the way to Grand Forks, but I think it’s important for these applicants to visit the community and institution they are applying to run.

As for ease, Shirley apparently had to fly from Minot to Minneapolis to interview for a job in Grand Forks.

C’mon. That’s absurd.

Again, barring some revelations from Lindquist which lend weight to her claims of an unfair process, I doubt any lawsuit she files is going to find much merit.

That said, for all the money and time the university system pours into this sort of thing, you’d think they could be a little more thoughtful and rigorous.

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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