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NDUS chancellor to Kennedy: ‘I accept your de facto notice of resignation’

A letter sent Friday from North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott may have ended the tenure of UND President Mark Kennedy.

Hagerott on Friday sent a letter to Kennedy that congratulated him on being named the sole finalist for the presidency of the University of Colorado, and said he considers the news to be a “de facto notice” of Kennedy’s resignation of his position at UND.

The letter was obtained by the Herald just prior to this edition being sent to press. UND spokeswoman Meloney Linder confirmed to the Herald that the letter from Hagerott is legitimate and that Kennedy did receive it Friday.

“I would like to thank you for all your efforts on behalf of the University of North Dakota and the North Dakota University System over the last three years, and we wish you the very best in your new role in Colorado,” Hagerott said. “While I have not received your formal notice of resignation, on April 10, 2019, you sent a statement to the UND community. In it, you stated that you were ‘excited for this new opportunity, but sorry to leave UND’ and that you ‘look forward to … returning to witness UND’s continued success.’ ”

It was a cap to a hectic week of news at UND. Tuesday, the Herald reported on swirling rumors that Kennedy was considering leaving UND and would be offered a job in Colorado. Wednesday, that news was confirmed.

However, Kennedy is simply the sole finalist for the position, and the Colorado Board of Regents is spending up to two weeks to fully consider him for the job before voting final approval. During that time, Kennedy will visit Colorado and the four campuses that he could eventually oversee.

Hagerott’s letter noted that Kennedy has been quoted “in many news accounts as stating that your last day as president of UND will be June 15, 2019.”

“Under the circumstances, we view the April 10, 2019, statement, along with your statements to the media outlets since then, as a de facto notice of resignation effective June 15, 2019.”

Hagerott then continued: “On behalf of the North Dakota University System, I accept your de facto notice of resignation.”

Linder, reached late in the day, would only confirm that the letter is legitimate and that Kennedy received it. She said neither she nor Kennedy had further comment.

As the Herald reported Tuesday that rumors circulated about Kennedy, he and the university declined to comment. Wednesday, after his selection as finalist was made official, he released a statement that said he had mixed feelings about the news.

He said he and his wife, Debbie, are “excited for this new opportunity but sorry to leave UND. We look forward to keeping in close contact with our many friends in North Dakota and returning to witness UND’s continue progress.”

Later in the day, the Herald asked Kennedy if his statement meant the presidency in Colorado was “a done deal.” He responded that he should have clarified his statement.

“It would be presumptuous to say it’s a done deal until after this period,” he said. “I maybe should have put ‘we would be sorry to leave UND.’ It is not a final deal. It is highly unusual that it is not the final selection, but that option remains until the regents vote again in two weeks.”

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