Stephens cancels internal greivance process

Kristin Gustafson

A day after the University’s treasurer petitioned the Minnesota Court of Appeals to get her job duties back, she closed the door on handling the matter internally, according to Mark Rotenberg, the University’s general counsel.
Georgina Stephens, treasurer and associate vice president of treasury operations, terminated her internal grievance process and cancelled a meeting today with University President Mark Yudof, Rotenberg said.
“That means she’s chosen her field of attack here, which is in the courts,” Rotenberg said.
Stephens already canceled her internal grievance once since being placed on administrative leave Oct. 20, according to documents filed Monday in the Minnesota Court of Appeals. She later re-entered the grievance process.
Handling the matter internally is “off the table now,” Rotenberg added.
Stephens asked the state appellate court to review the University’s decisions to put her on administrative leave and remove her financial responsibilities.
Prior to the University’s action, Stephens was responsible for handling $1.3 billion in cash and long-term University assets as well as managing $533.3 million of University debts.
She also asked the court to intervene and return her previous job responsibilities. After the University investigated Stephens’ external litigation for five months, officials decided to remove Stephens’ responsibilities for financial matters and not renew her contract in six months.
In the documents filed Monday, Stephens alleged the University violated her rights after learning she filed for bankruptcy. She also said the University denied her a voice in its final decision.
“Filing bankruptcy is not illegal,” Stephens said via e-mail. “Bad things do happen to good people. I never allowed my personal travails to interfere with the performance of my professional duties at the University.”
Stephens also alleged defamation, civil rights violations, breach of contract and other legal violations in her petition to the upper court.
“I seek full reinstatement to my position and honoring of my employment contract,” Stephens said. “My professional reputation will never be back to where it was before (University President Mark Yudof) handled me so shabbily. However, I hope to mitigate the damage that he has wrought so that I can continue in my profession and contribute to the support of my family.
“I believe I will be vindicated in court,” Stephens said.
The University will address Stephens’ reinstatement motion by next Monday. Her request for judicial review will be addressed within 30 days, Rotenberg said.
Stephens elected to use vacation time rather than return to her reassigned duties after the University informed her Nov. 30 that it would remove her financial duties.
But Rotenberg said Stephens’ attorney told him she would report to her new duties Monday.
Karl Oliver, Stephens’ attorney, would not comment on her decision about the grievance proceedings or returning to work.

Kristin Gustafson covers University administration and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3211.