Ex-UMD official: He advised firing Raymond, was demotedA former University of Minnesota Duluth vice chancellor says he was removed from his position in 2009 by then-chancellor Kathryn A. Martin after he recommended firing UMD fitness instructor Rod Raymond.
By: Jana Hollingsworth and Brandon Stahl, Duluth News Tribune
A former University of Minnesota Duluth vice chancellor says he was removed from his position in 2009 by then-chancellor Kathryn A. Martin after he recommended firing UMD fitness instructor Rod Raymond.
Randy Hyman, who was vice chancellor for academic support and student life, told the News Tribune that he ordered an investigation of Raymond after receiving sexual harassment complaints against him in April 2009. That investigation ended two months later with a recommendation in a report written by Deborah Petersen-Perlman, then director of the Office of Equal Opportunity, that Martin should fire Raymond.
Hyman said on Friday that he also made that recommendation.
“The evidence from the investigation clearly indicated that he had been sexually harassing a number of young women,” Hyman said. “Because of that, the university has the obligation to take appropriate action. In that case, I felt termination was the most appropriate.”
Martin refused to follow that recommendation, Hyman said.
“She didn’t explain why she was refusing to fire him,” said Hyman, who has been employed at a university in Colorado since July. “She was concerned that Rod might take (legal) action against the university,” he said.
He said Martin did not express concerns that the students would take legal action against the school.
Martin did not return calls from the News Tribune placed to her home in Wisconsin. A UMD spokeswoman said on Friday that Martin was slated to be in England this week, and that she could not immediately retrieve Martin’s cell phone number.
In a November 2009 opinion piece in the News Tribune, however, Martin wrote that student safety was UMD’s top priority.
“In the case involving Rod Raymond, UMD promptly and thoroughly investigated the claims against him. He was given an opportunity to respond to those claims. After at least some of those claims were found to have merit, there was an appropriate discussion of possible sanctions,” Martin wrote.
“Upon the completion of the investigation, Mr. Raymond was appropriately sanctioned. … Our process and judgment needs to be fair to victims but also to employees accused of engaging in misconduct. We cannot immediately jump to the most extreme sanction in all cases. … In no event does this decision or any decision diminish our commitment to the creation of an open environment for women on our campus, to which I am dedicated both as chancellor and as a woman.”
Hyman said he still doesn’t know if there’s a connection between his termination as a vice chancellor and the Raymond investigation and recommendation.
Asked why he was now revealing what happened, Hyman said it was because of the passage of time and Raymond’s continued employment at UMD.
Raymond, a prominent Duluth business owner and endurance athlete, co-owns Fitger’s Brewhouse, Burrito Union, the Red Star Lounge and Tycoons Alehouse & Eatery, and on Oct. 5 bought Endion Station in Canal Park for $300,000 with business partner Tim Nelson. He has been a UMD employee and fitness instructor since 1989 and is currently the school’s Fitness and Wellness coordinator. However, he has been on unpaid leave at his own request since November 2011, school human resources director Judith Karon told the News Tribune.
He is again under investigation by the university following two new complaints, the News Tribune learned through an open records act request, though the school won’t release when the complaints were made or the nature of the allegations.
Instead of being fired three years ago, Raymond was disciplined by the school following orders by Martin, Hyman said. Those actions included having to attend a sexual harassment workshop, having witnesses present during meetings with young women and keep his office door open.
Raymond, a one-time personal trainer to Martin, told the News Tribune in 2009 that he denied sexually harassing any students and said the investigation resulted from a “big misunderstanding.”
He said at the time that Martin told him of the case: “Water under the bridge. Go to the workshop, and let’s get back to training.”
In the same article, he said, “The chancellor trusts and believes in me. My bosses at the university believe in me. University officials believe in me, and they keep me on the staff.”
After Martin made her decision to discipline Raymond instead of firing him, Hyman left for vacation, the former vice chancellor said Friday. When he returned, Hyman said a letter from the chancellor was in his mail saying that effective Aug. 31 he would no longer be a vice chancellor and would “transition” to a tenured faculty position in the UMD Department of Education, where he remained until last June.
Hyman didn’t ask Martin if the decision was related to Raymond and didn’t think that at the time, he said. Now he says he sees things differently.
“It’s consistent with concerns that the chancellor had expressed in me about the manner in which I had conducted myself as vice chancellor,” Hyman said of her decision. “That I would, in her view, raise questions about why we did things a certain way … take initiative to do research on best practices on certain ways to do things. That wasn’t the kind of thing she wanted or appreciated, and she pointed out I was trying to make too many changes or do things that weren’t consistent, in her view, with the way things happened at UMD.”