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UND: EERC director fired for misleading president about finances, bullying employees

Grand Forks, ND - President Robert Kelley fired the director of UND’s Energy and Environmental Research Center for providing false information to administrators, the public and employees and for creating a hostile work environment, according to the university's official dismissal document.

Gerald Groenewold refuted the accusations after he was fired with cause on May 30.

The letter sent from Kelley accuses Groenewold of lying and providing false or misleading information about the EERC's financial situation to the public, to his own employees and to Kelley himself.

The letter also cited Groenwold's "inappropriate" behavior as grounds for dismissal, including times where he "talked about employees behind their backs" and "used abusive or inappropriate language to bully employees."

"On any given day, employees do not know if it is safe to approach you, which makes it difficult to do their jobs," the letter said.

Groenwold disputed some of Kelley's claims in his own letter, where he admitted to having an "intense, hard-driving personality" but denied ever being untruthful or misleading about the EERC's finances.

Groenewold was put on administrative leave in early May without explanation after serving as the EERC's director since 1987. Thomas Erickson, the facility's associate director for business, operations, and intellectual property, is now in charge until further notice.

Anna Burleson

Anna Burleson is the higher education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Mass Communication program and is originally from Watertown, S.D. Contact her with story ideas or tips by phone, email or Twitter, all of which are listed below. Examples of her work can be accessed here.

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