The discrimination complaint filed Friday by fired music professors Lisa Grevlos and Paul Nesheim against Augustana University alleges that university president Stephanie Herseth Sandlin got the discrimination ball rolling in 2020 by excluding tenured professor Grevlos from an important hiring process:
In early 2020, Augustana University began the hiring process for the
inaugural dean of the new School of Music. President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin selected Dr. Russell Svenningsen and Dr. Brian Hanegan as the only two music faculty members to serve on the dean search committee. Dr. Svenningsen was tenured whereas Dr. Hanegan was tenure-track but not yet tenured. Dr. Grevlos, then Chair of the Music Department, was not included or consulted in the process in violation of the AU Faculty Handbook [Plaintiffs’ Complaint, Lisa Grevlos and Paul Nesheim v. Augustana University, United States District Court of South Dakota, filed 2023.05.26, pp. 4–5].
The complaint alleges that President Herseth Sandlin fired Grevlos and her colleague Nesheim this spring without citing any violation of university policy by the tenured profs:
On February 27, 2023, President Herseth Sandlin issued a dismissal for cause letter terminating Dr. Nesheim effective May 24, 2023. Ms. Herseth Sandlin claimed that Dr. Nesheim presented a “harm” to the university, faculty and staff, but cited no university policy violation as required for dismissal of a tenured professor.
On March 3, 2023, President Herseth Sandlin issued a dismissal for cause letter terminating Dr. Grevlos effective May 24, 2023. Ms. Herseth Sandlin claimed that Dr. Grevlos presented a “harm” to the university, faculty and staff, but cited no university policy violation as required for dismissal of a tenured professor [Complaint, 2023.05.26].
Augustana has yet to reply in court. The plaintiffs are engaging lawyers from Minneapolis law firm Lockridge Grindal and Lauen to press their suit. The case is before Judge Karen Schreier in Sioux Falls.