U of M Board of Regents names external review oversight committee

August 20, 2015

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents has appointed Regent Laura Brod, Regent Abdul Omari, Ph. D., College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) Dean Jean Quam and General Counsel William Donohue to a committee charged with providing oversight and direction to the independent external counsel retained to review issues related to sexual harassment in the Gopher Athletics Department.

“The Board and President Kaler have acted swiftly and in close partnership in the wake of Norwood Teague’s resignation, and we are accountable for ensuring this review is thorough, complete and independent,” said Regents Chair Dean Johnson.

Brod, who will chair the oversight committee, is also the chair of the Board’s Audit and Compliance Committee. Omari holds the student regent seat and was elected in 2013 after Teague was hired. Quam has been at the University since 1980, serving as dean of CEHD — the U’s most diverse college — since 2008. Donohue has been General Counsel since 2013, serving in various roles in the General Counsel’s office for more than 30 years.

On August 13, the University announced it has retained an independent, external legal counsel, Karen G. Schanfield of the law firm Fredrikson & Byron P.A., to conduct a review and address key issues following the resignation of former Gopher Athletics Director Norwood Teague. Schanfield will work with her partner, Joseph T. Dixon, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney. The independent counsel is charged with:

  • Reviewing and investigating all allegations of sexual harassment against Teague or other senior leaders in the athletics department received following Teague’s resignation.
  • Reviewing and investigating as appropriate, any new EthicsPoint complaints regarding sexual harassment in the Gopher Athletics Department.
  • Reviewing whether the University knew or should have known of allegations of sexual harassment by Norwood Teague, but failed to address them.
  • Reviewing the University’s vetting of Teague during his hiring process.
  • Assessing the University’s climate in Intercollegiate Athletics with regard to reporting and addressing sexual harassment, in partnership with the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

“The oversight committee provides a single contact point for the independent counsel and will ensure the process is thorough and complete. It will remove barriers and help cut through red tape, as well as provide direction and counsel, as needed,” Johnson explained.

The oversight committee will meet with the external counsel on a regular basis, with the first meeting being planned for next week. The committee will have the opportunity to discuss the overall plan for conducting the review and provide oversight on an ongoing basis. Throughout the process, the committee will:

  • Provide insight and direction to the external counsel
  • Ensure work is moving forward to fulfill the charge
  • Ensure the counsel has the access to the people and resources they need to complete their charge
  • Ensure the counsel can conduct its work freely and act independently

Schanfield is a University of Minnesota Law School graduate who, among other matters, conducted reviews of allegations of sexual harassment and other employment-related claims against several high-level individuals, including the former Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. Dixon led the U.S. Attorney’s prosecution of Tom Petters. Prior to joining Fredrikson & Byron, he served as corporate in-house counsel where he led numerous internal investigations involving allegations of misconduct.

 

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