A former UND chief of police said he left his position early this year after he faced harassment and discrimination by two UND administrators.
Eric Plummer left his job in February, not long after filing complaints against two UND executives – Cara Halgren, vice president of student affairs, and Cassie Gerhardt, associate vice president of student affairs and diversity – for discrimination and creating a hostile working environment over a period of four years, dating back to an incident in 2016. Plummer began working at UND in 2012.
Plummer filed the complaints on Jan. 29, after meeting with Halgren, Gerhardt, UND President Andrew Armacost and Jed Shivers, vice president of finance and operations, on Jan. 28. On Wednesday, Aug. 4, Plummer told the Grand Forks Herald the meeting was taken to repair the relationship between himself, Halgren and Gerhardt.
Plummer said he left UND because of what he claims was a hostile and discriminating work environment.
“I was (looking for another job) and it was specifically the reason I was looking,” Plummer said. “I was looking at leaving because of the environment.”
Plummer became the chief of police at Radford University, in Radford, Va.
In the complaints, Plummer said he faced a “hostile and toxic environment created by Cara Halgren and Cassie Gerhardt,” after he was asked by Halgren who he voted for in the 2016 presidential election. Plummer replied that he voted for Donald Trump. According to the complaint, the conversation took place at the Northside Cafe on Gateway Drive, after the election that year. Plummer said he was uncomfortable answering the question but felt he had to, as she is a vice president at UND and because of their ongoing business relationship.
According to the complaint, Halgren replied: “How could you have voted for that man?”
Plummer, in his complaint, alleges Halgren canceled all further breakfast meetings with him, which he said negatively impacted his ability to develop relationships with UND student affairs. He claims their professional relationship continued to deteriorate, and became less professional. Plummer also alleges Gerhardt aided Halgren in discriminatory behavior, including an increasingly confrontational environment, and being intentionally left out of an online COVID-19 town hall meeting for UND students, moderated by Gerhardt.
Plummer also alleges Gerhardt demeaned him in front of UND leadership members, including introducing him to Meloney Linder, vice president of marketing and communications, as the “part-time police chief.”
Halgren declined to comment on the situation, citing the continuing investigation.
“I recognize that there's probably an interest in hearing from me on this,” Halgren said. “At this point all I will say is that there is a process in place and the process is playing itself out. Until that's done I feel like saying anything at this point would be premature.
Gerhardt was not able to be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Linder, in a previously scheduled Wednesday morning meeting with the Herald, also would not comment, citing the ongoing investigation. She said UND is following the investigative process set out by the North Dakota University System, and that complaints can be handled either internally or externally by a third party.
In Plummer’s case, the complaints are being handled by an independent administrative law judge. Wednesday, Plummer said the administrative law judge made an initial decision on the complaints, but that decision is being appealed. Plummer would not speak to that initial decision, and he would not say who made the appeal, citing the ongoing process.
On Aug. 3, UND named Rodney Clark as its next chief of police and associate vice president of public safety.