A former UND administrator who recently took a position with the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation was terminated from her position at the university.
According to documents obtained by the Herald through an open records request, Laura Block, the library foundation’s first chief operating officer, was terminated without cause, on May 17. Block was the associate dean of administration and finance at UND’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
According to the notice of termination, Block was paid a lump sum of $119,910, along with any unused leave, minus applicable taxes. The notice indicates that certain employees at UND must be given six months notice before termination, but that Block would be paid the lump sum in lieu of that time period.
Joshua Wynne, dean of the SMHS, wrote that the action was taken “without cause and does not reflect on your contributions” to UND. Wynne wished Block well in future pursuits.
For her part, Block said she didn’t believe that she was fired, but that the university wanted to take a different direction in her office. When asked for clarification, Block referred the Herald to UND on the specifics of the situation.
“I wouldn't say I was fired, I left employment in May and then have been searching for other opportunities,” she said.
Block said she received the maximum amount of merit pay for her position, and had received good performance reviews while in her job.
“It is my assessment that your performance in all areas met or exceeded my expectations,” wrote Wynne, in Block’s 2019 performance review. The Herald learned of Block’s termination in August, and requested records about the action, to determine why she was terminated.
UND administrators issued a brief statement, and declined to discuss the matter further.
“In May 2021, a decision was made to terminate the employment of Laura Block, formerly the associate dean for administration and finance at the School of Medicine & Health Sciences,” wrote David Dodds, UND spokesman. “All university policies and procedures were followed in making this decision. The university has no further comments on the specifics of this employee personnel matter.”
Dodds said the position of associate dean of administration and finance still exists at UND, meaning the position was apparently not made redundant. Administrators, he said, are looking to fill that position. As of Tuesday, Sept. 14, the job did not appear to be listed on UND’s website.
In the interim, employees who previously reported to Block are reporting to Judy Solberg, chief of staff of the dean's office at the SMHS.