Being a woman and working for North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott sounds like a nightmare.
Hagerott, a former Navy captain who started the job in July 2015, is known to call his female subordinates “girls” and “will not ride or travel with staff who are unmarried women” — and that’s not the half of it.
These pieces of information come from a 2016 survey of Hagerott’s employees that was released publicly last week. According to the Grand Forks Herald, Hagerott denied favoring men over women. Hagerott has also described the allegations as an attempt to discredit him: more on that later.
We reached out to Hagerott through his spokesperson, Billie Jo Lorius. On Monday, Lorius told us “Chancellor Hagerott could talk to you about your specific questions”, and asked for our phone number, which we provided. Then this morning, Lorius wrote, “I talked to the chancellor in the hall today. He was heading to the First Lady’s event Recovery Reinvented, then has a speaking engagement in Minot. He won’t be available today.”
The survey has attracted lots of media attention, but the big papers have neglected to report many of the details.
The survey was the result of NDUS Compliance Officer Karol Riedman’s interviews with 15 of the 21 people who work for NDUS. Of those 15 interviewed, 13 were women and 2 were men.
The results were bad. Along with many of complaints about Hagerott’s anger (“Super controlling,” “Slamming books down,” “He swears at staff”), many staff also detailed his conduct toward women in the office.
Riedman concluded in her survey that “all employees responding felt … the men in the office were treated with more respect and valued more than the women.” According to the survey responses, Hagerott
- “told unmarried staff they would never get anywhere without a good man in their life.”
- referred to “female staff as ‘girls.'”
- complimented a woman during a cabinet meeting and thanked her husband for “letting her work so hard.”
- told a female employee that she “looks good” and “has a lot of energy” for her age.
- “interrupts women but not men.”
- yells for (one female employee) “like she’s a dog.”
- “will not ride or travel with staff who are unmarried women.”
- complimented one female employee on her son, then added, “You can see he has some good fatherly influences.”
Another tidbit from the survey is irrelevant but fascinating:
During the campus “listen and learn” tour, when we got to the wellness center, he walked away from the group, took off his suit coat and did a bunch of pull-ups. Odd. Like he was showing off.
Hagerott, who makes $372,000 a year, is now on the offensive. This week he began calling for an independent investigation of efforts to discredit his office and make him look bad. He believes he’s being retaliated against because he declined to spank University of North Dakota President Ed Schafer when Schafer endorsed Doug Burgum for governor last year. (University presidents aren’t supposed to endorse political candidates, but Schafer didn’t care.) Per the Grand Forks Herald:
Though Hagerott didn’t describe specifics, he says he faced pressure to act against Schafer … from various parties, including from his senior staff, but ultimately decided against taking any punitive action against the interim president.
Hagerott believes that decision marked the starting point of a “defamatory campaign” against him, an effort he said included accusations of sexual harassment of NDUS staff.
It should be noted that to while the survey concluded Hagerott was biased against women, “there were no concerns raised about sexual harassment.”
Meanwhile, Hagerott’s bosses at the State Board of Higher Education stand behind him. If you work for Hagerott and would like to share your experience anonymously, email email@example.com.