GRAND FORKS-University of North Dakota Aerospace Dean Paul Lindseth has filed a document accusing Provost Tom DiLorenzo of being disrespectful and treating him (Lindseth) differently than other deans.
The memo was sent to Pat Hanson, director of human resources at UND, on Sept. 15, and it specifically names DiLorenzo. It came two weeks after aviation faculty voted 32-0 in favor of a resolution of no confidence in DiLorenzo.
"Since I began my service as Dean of the Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences over two years ago, I feel that Provost DiLorenzo's (behavior) toward me has become increasingly more hostile, demeaning, disrespectful and unfair," Lindseth wrote.
In the memo, Lindseth claims that DiLorenzo has treated his "appointment as the aerospace dean differently than other deans whom he has appointed.
"As a result, it has been difficult for the aerospace faculty and staff to see why or how they can be more a part of 'One UND,' " Lindseth wrote.
In a response, dated Sept. 26, UND President Mark Kennedy noted that Lindseth's appointment as dean was "not renewed as of July 1, 2018, due to concerns expressed during the performance review period," but said the dean should work with administrators to improve his job performance.
"I want to give you an opportunity to continue successfully in your role as dean, therefore I have asked Provost DiLorenzo and Vice President (for Finance and Operations Jed) Shivers to work on a performance improvement plan for the next six months. My hope is that you demonstrate your ability to provide true leadership in a manner that brings the Odegard School and University closer together," Kennedy wrote.
He also wrote that he did not believe "any policy has been violated" regarding Lindseth's complaints.
Lindseth remains in his job as dean and is not on probation, UND Vice President of Marketing and Communications Meloney Linder said Thursday.
In an email to Forum News Service Thursday, Sept. 27, Lindseth said he and Kennedy had a "frank conversation" about the issues and "came up with a plan to move forward for the next six months."
History of tension
Lindseth lays out several complaints regarding the provost, including that faculty and staff have complained it took an "exceedingly long time" for him to be appointed as dean, despite their "unanimous decision" recommending him as the only candidate for the position.
Lindseth also claims that after being appointed dean, the provost did not sponsor an open-house event to introduce him to the campus or the community, as DiLorenzo has done with other deans. Lindseth also claims he was never assigned a senior dean as a mentor, as has been done for other new deans.
Additionally, Lindseth claims that DiLorenzo has acted disrespectfully toward him multiple times during the past two years. On one occasion Lindseth claims DiLorenzo allegedly called him and yelled at him while he was meeting with aerospace school benefactors Si and Betty Robin in California. The specific reason why DiLorenzo allegedly yelled at him was not given, but Lindseth claims it was done at "inopportune time" after DiLorenzo had already missed an agreed upon time to "deliver unwelcoming demands."
Lindseth's memo goes on to claim that DiLorenzo was disrespectful to Lindseth in other ways. This includes a June 7, 2018, meeting in which the provost was "very upset" when Lindseth submitted aviation faculty pay increases in the annual Odegard School budget. He claims that DiLorenzo said these changes were made without his permission, and he yelled at Lindseth multiple times saying, "What were you thinking?"
Lindseth claims that he had discussed the issues previously with DiLorenzo, who was supportive of the changes.
"The meeting was extremely disheartening, especially when I had talked about the market adjustments throughout the year," Lindseth wrote.
Finally, Lindseth claims that an Aug. 22 meeting including him, Odegard Fiscal Affairs Director Becky Mann and UND administration was conducted in a "disrespectful manner." The meeting, chaired by DiLorenzo and which also included Kennedy, Shivers and other UND faculty, discussed the "unilateral reclassification" of funds by the Odegard School.
Lindseth said the issue centered on the school not receiving permission prior to moving sales and service revenue to grant and contract revenue.
Lindseth claims that DiLorenzo chose to submit a letter calling the revenue reclassification inappropriate into his and Mann's personnel ﬁles. He also claims that DiLorenzo should have informed Lindseth and Mann about avenues of appeal related to the decision. He requested that the letter regarding the reclassification of funds be removed from his and Mann's record.
"I came away from this meeting very disheartened with a feeling of no respect from the Provost ofﬁce, even though the Odegard School is experiencing a record 22 percent enrollment increase in freshmen students," Lindseth wrote. "Also I came away from the meeting with the feeling the Provost will dismiss me at any time, given the heavy-handed and disrespectful nature of the meeting."
In response to Lindseth's concerns regarding the state of communication between Lindseth and DiLorenzo, Kennedy noted that he has requested that Vice President Shivers join weekly meetings between the two.
"These meetings will continue, and I expect that they will nurture an atmosphere of mutual trust and honesty based on effective communication," Kennedy wrote.
In response to Lindseth's request that he be assigned a mentor to work more effectively with UND administration, Kennedy said he is "currently finalizing a process for executive coaching and team development for members of the administration."
"I am conﬁdent that your participation in this process, along with the continued weekly meetings with Vice President Shivers and Provost DiLorenzo, will facilitate positive and collaborative conversations between the Odegard School and the University," Kennedy wrote.
Regarding the reclassification of revenue, Kennedy wrote that it "was inappropriate and required an intervention."
"University leadership is responsible for addressing employment issues as they arise, and the Provost's letter in your file adequately identifies the inappropriate unilateral classification and outlines the University's response and expectations," Kennedy wrote.