ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Commentary: UND needs a full-time unifier

We've all done it -- looked around for another job while gainfully employed, hoping the boss doesn't find out because as a rule of thumb, you'll be fired if he or she does. But at UND, the higher-ups just seem to be looking away and hoping the Ma...

William J. Brotherton
William J. Brotherton

We've all done it - looked around for another job while gainfully employed, hoping the boss doesn't find out because as a rule of thumb, you'll be fired if he or she does. But at UND, the higher-ups just seem to be looking away and hoping the Mark Kennedy problem resolves itself without further damage to the university.

As a proud graduate of UND and the owner of three businesses, I'd like to have my say in whether Kennedy continues as the lame-duck president of UND. Quite frankly, it's time for him to leave. We urgently need someone dedicated to the university and its future.

Most business owners worth their salt would not sit back and watch complacently while a key manager goes out to hustle up another job. Mr. Kennedy is clearly in a vital position at a critical time for the university. We've heard doom and gloom about the state of the university and its low morale, as it prepares to knock down a number of buildings on campus, has dropped sports programs, closed the golf course, yet somehow has the money to build foot baths courtesy of the Alumni Association.

Mr. Kennedy came in with razzle-dazzle and claimed he was here to stay: "North Dakota's our new home for a long time" and all that.

Gee, then he agrees to interview at the University of Central Florida? If you really like where you're at, you don't go looking for another job. He claims he was solicited by a headhunter and wasn't really looking, but come on, he could have said no. That would've shown his dedication to UND and silenced many critics.

ADVERTISEMENT

There is talk about how we should be flattered about Mr. Kennedy being even considered for the president's job at the University of Central Florida. Really?

I mean, couldn't he have interviewed at Notre Dame or the University of Texas or some other top-tier university and make us proud? Instead, he applies to a school that is ranked number 171 in the U.S. News & World Report College Rankings (UND is tied at 192). That gives a sense of how desperate he is to leave North Dakota.

If he had actually obtained the job in Florida, and we were to project out his career path based on his track record, after two years at the University of Central Florida, he would be ready to move on to another school on his stepping-stone path to Harvard. Maybe he would go somewhere like Illinois State University, which is ranked No. 159. Unless he's decided he can tolerate no more cold weather; in that case, he could select the University of Alabama at Birmingham, not quite as warm as Florida, but Alabama doesn't have too many snowplows.

And Alabama Birmingham is also at number 159, tied with Illinois State.

UND spent $140,000 to "find" Mark Kennedy. That was money UND didn't have to waste. Now it's looking like UND will have to spend even more money to find another "new" president.

The next president will be faced with the daunting challenge of trying to build up morale at UND and stop the slide to mediocrity, best symbolized by the post office-like symbol used for our shrinking sports teams.

It's clear UND needs someone who can unify. But it's impossible for someone to unite often disparate groups when most folks believe Mr. Kennedy is already gone, going through the paces while he looks for the next opportunity.

As Mr. Kennedy continues his job search, we will go through more interviews and eventually he'll snag that new, higher-paying job, so that we can move on to someone dedicated to UND and its mission. Someone that plans to stay. As I said, no self-respecting business would continue to employ a top manager who has made the decision to leave. No one is that good. But maybe I don't understand academic contracts.

ADVERTISEMENT

Perhaps it's OK to go out and interview for the next position while you're still gainfully employed and exhorting graduates to go out and shake up the world. Maybe that's the difference between academia and the business world.

All I know is that my alma mater deserves better.

William J. Brotherton, of Texas, is a UND graduate and the principal of the Brotherton Law Firm. He is licensed as an attorney in both North Dakota and Texas.

Related Topics: MARK KENNEDY
What To Read Next