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Erickson made EERC Interim Director

Tom Erickson has been named interim director at UND's Energy and Environmental Research Center. He has been acting director since former director Gerald Groenewold was put on leave May 5 and subsequently fired. "I'm happy," Erickson said. "The EE...

Tom Erickson
Tom Erickson

Tom Erickson has been named interim director at UND’s Energy and Environmental Research Center.

He has been acting director since former director Gerald Groenewold was put on leave May 5 and subsequently fired.

“I’m happy,” Erickson said. “The EERC houses world class facilities and it houses world class people. The people make the difference and we have such a great team here and a great team we’re working with through the university. I think we’re poised for great things in the future.”

The lab, located on the east side of campus, primarily does contract work for the federal government and the private sector. It employs 235.

Erickson has worked there since 1988. Prior to his promotion, he was associate director for business, operations and intellectual property. The university will find an interim associate director while Erickson serves as director.


He will answer directly to Provost Tom DiLorenzo, which is a change from Groenewold, who answered directly to President Robert Kelley.

“It was unusual, and it’s unusual at any university to have that happen, and so what we’re trying to do is get back to a system where all research reports to the provost’s office,” DiLorenzo said.

Money matters

The EERC has carried a budget deficit of about $1 million annually back as far as 2008 and UND’s Vice President for Finance and Operations Alice Brekke penned a memo in March where she said UND will carry a total projected deficit for the EERC of about $3.75 million by the end of fiscal year 2015 if nothing changes.

But things are looking up at the EERC, and Erickson said the center already has $10 million in income for the two months from preexisting contracts. The center has also submitted about $12 million worth of proposals over the course of the summer.

“We’re not doing this because of the deficit,” DiLorenzo said. “It’s just a natural process or an evolution of the way things are operating. The leadership is changing. We’re just trying to figure out how it’s all going to work better.”

He and Erickson will also be working with EERC staff and legislators to find ways the center can better serve the area, including finding ways to find and retain qualified graduates.


“We’re trying to position ourselves for the next 10 years,” DiLorenzo said.

As director, Groenewold made $308,464 annually. Erickson made $233,438 annually as acting director and will continue to do so until a higher salary can be negotiated for his new position, according to UND spokesman Peter Johnson.

“The paperwork hasn’t been signed yet,” he said.

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