Stephens

Kristin Gustafson

Georgina Stephens, the University’s former treasurer, still hopes to get her old job back.
The same day the Board of Regents formally ousted her from her treasurer position, Stephens said she filed a 49-page court document with the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Friday in protest.
“For the last two-and-one-half months, I should have been doing my job as treasurer of the University,” Stephens said Monday.
Her court action followed Friday’s 12-0 Board of Regents vote to change the board bylaws in order to remove Stephens from her position.
There was no debate.
In November, the University took away all fiscal job duties from Stephens — both in her board-elected treasurer position and in her University associate vice president of treasury operations position — after conducting a five-week review into her personal legal matters. Stephens objected to this and Friday’s board decision.
Stephens has been involved in bankruptcy, foreclosure and other litigation dating as far back as 1989.
After the five-week review, the University concluded Stephens’ legal concerns did not involve University matters and said nothing to criticize Stephens’ job performance for either position.
However, in addition to removing her job duties, Stephens’ 66 employees were reassigned and her office was moved out of Morrill Hall.
“They converted a conference room into an office, so they pretty much have me secluded,” Stephens said of her West Bank office.
Regents Chairwoman Patricia Spence and University President Mark Yudof officially informed Stephens of the job changes along the way.
Stephens said she was recently praised for both jobs during a 1999 performance review and at the October regents meeting.
However, “certain misstatements and improprieties” in Stephens’ past caused the University to conclude she should be reassigned to different work, said the University General Counsel in November. Stephens was told her contract would be allowed to expire on June 30, 2000.
The appellate court will not determine the substance of her case, Stephens said, “but it will look to see if the process was fair.”
She said she hopes the court will determine the University did not have proper authority to put her on administrative leave and change her job, and acted in an “arbitrary, oppressive and fraudulent” manner.
The court action has four main points:
ù Spence did not have the authority to remove Stephens’ fiscal job responsibilities without full board action.
Stephens participated in the University’s investigation, assuming it was authorized, she said.
ù University officials violated Stephens’ Fourth Amendment rights with an alleged illegal search.
“University agents rifled through (her) desk, file cabinets and computer,” according to the document.
ù University officials violated federal wiretap laws.
Stephens alleged the University’s interception of wire, oral and electronic communication — specifically her e-mail and voice-mail messages — violated federal law.
ù The University did not follow its own policies and procedures.
“The University’s conduct … is a textbook example of the arbitrary, oppressive, capricious, impersonal and cold manner in which powerful, privileged, high-handed officials can act when they believe no one is looking over their shoulder,” according to the document.
Rotenberg said Friday the appellate court has a limited jurisdiction, and Stephens’ has raised unusual issues for this court. As a result, the appellate court is unlikely to rule on many of the issues Stephens raised in the original appeal, he said.
But the University will continue to respond to Stephens in the appellate court as well as any other court that will hear her case.
“We’re confident that we will prevail,” Rotenberg said.