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FORMER INSTRUCTOR MAY WIN A YEAR'S SALARY FROM UND
A UND faculty committee has recommended a former communication instructor be awarded a year's salary for her dismissal a year ago.
Pattijean Hooper was not rehired last May after teaching public relations at UND for five years. In a grievance filed against the university, Hooper contended that her contract was improperly changed and she was forced out because of her criticism of UND's firing of School of Communication Director Lana Rakow in 1996.
Hooper had been an instructor for four years when signed a contract for that position in the summer of 1996 for the 1996-97 school year. University administrators told her that fall that the contract had been offered in error, and asked her to sign instead a contract as a lecturer - a lesser position - which Hooper refused. In May 1997, she was told she would not be rehired.
The UND Standing Committee on Faculty Rights, made up of five faculty members, reported that they did not find enough evidence to conclude that Hooper's dismissal was an act of retribution, but cited poor communication on the part of administrators and specific examples of questionable actions.
The evidence that was presented documented enough erroneous and improper events, that, taken together, could reasonably be interpreted as retribution, the report stated.
Committee members wrote that they were especially troubled by one instance in which Dean of the College of Fine Arts Bruce Jacobsen directed an assistant to refer to Hooper as a lecturer in the minutes of a January 1997 meeting, three months after her status as an instructor had apparently been accepted by the administration.
The committee's report recommended that Hooper be paid the equivalent of year's salary plus benefits - $27,605 plus 31 percent of that for benefits, Hooper said. The recommendation stated that Hooper's employment for five years created the expectation that she would continue to be employed, and the dismissal at the end of the year made it difficult to get a job elsewhere before the next school year.
The committee also recommended that the administration improve communication with faculty members and clarify on contracts faculty members' status and years on contract.
Hooper, who now teaches at Syracuse University, said she felt very vindicated that the committee had decided in her favor and accused administrators of inappropriate actions.
I've never been in it for the money. You don't teach at the University of North Dakota for the money, Hooper said.
The recommendation was filed Wednesday morning in the office of President Kendall Baker, who will make the ultimate decision on the matter. Hooper said Baker's authority in the matter creates a conflict of interest because of he was named in her grievance.
He was part of the decision to renew or not to renew me, Hooper said.
Grand Forks Herald, April 30, 1998