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Williston State College president placed on leave for alleged misconduct

Williston State College president placed on leave for alleged misconduct

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BISMARCK, N.D. -- Williston State College President Raymond Nadolny was placed on indefinite paid leave Wednesday for alleged misconduct involving alcohol use, North Dakota University System officials said.

Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen informed Nadolny of the decision in a letter Wednesday, telling him an independent investigator will conduct “a thorough investigation of the allegations.”

“If the investigator concludes there is evidence to support the allegations, I will likely initiate action to dismiss you,” the letter stated.

In a phone interview Thursday, Skogen said he received a complaint alleging that Nadolny’s alcohol use was “impinging upon his duties as president.” He wouldn’t discuss specifics.

Skogen said he met with Nadolny on Wednesday night and had a “nice conversation.”

“He’s obviously very concerned, incredibly cooperative and understands until we get to the bottom of all this, decisions (had to be) made,” he said.

A personal phone number for Nadolny couldn’t be found. No one answered the door at his home about 2 p.m. Thursday.

Skogen named Wanda Meyer, the college’s current provost and vice president for instruction and student services, to serve as acting president. Meyer declined to comment Thursday.

A decision is likely within the next week on whether Nadolny will remain on leave for an extended period, in which case Skogen will appoint an interim president, according to a statement from University System spokeswoman Linda Donlin.

Skogen said a third party will conduct an assessment — he avoided the word “investigation” used in the letter, saying that “was written by the lawyers” — of the allegations and the WSC campus.

“I want to take a broader view of what’s happening up there,” he said.

Skogen met with WSC faculty and staff Thursday morning. He didn’t address the alleged misconduct directly but said the University System wanted to avoid making a decision based on rumors and innuendo, the Williston Herald reported.

Skogen said his decision to place Nadolny on leave was to allow him to recover in a healthy situation, the newspaper reported.

“It was time that Ray get disconnected from the campus,” he said, “allowing him to work on issues of his health and well-being.”

Skogen told Forum News Service that he first heard about Nadolny’s alleged misconduct late Wednesday morning from University System staff who had been notified by WSC staff, and by 2 p.m. he was on the road to Williston. He said he spoke immediately with Board of Higher Education President Kirsten Diederich about the allegations.

“She was compassionate but knew that we had to take some action,” he said.

The board voted in September to give Nadolny a 5 percent salary increase, which was higher than the 3 percent raise given to seven other presidents in the University System, including the presidents of the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University. Board members cited the high cost of living in Williston as the reason for Nadolny’s bigger raise, which increased his salary to $183,299, retroactive to July 1.

In the letter Wednesday, Skogen told Nadolny not to visit the campus or contact WSC faculty or employees while on administrative leave “unless you have received permission from me or my designee.”

Nadolny also was ordered to return college property, including keys, vehicles, computers, documents and ID cards and badges, and his access to campus email was cut off.

Nadolny became the college’s third president in April 2009. He had previously spent nine years as vice president for extended learning at Lake Washington Technical College in Kirkland, Wash., and 10 years in the Arizona community college system.

Williston State College has a fall headcount of 883 students, according to preliminary enrollment figures.

(Kathleen J. Bryan contributed to this article. Reach Mike Nowatzki at 701-255-5607 or by email at mnowatzki@forumcomm.com.)

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