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UND presidential rejected applicant considering lawsuit

Cynthia Lindquist

The president of a community college on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation said Tuesday she hasn't decided if she will file a lawsuit afterbeing excluded from the search for UND's president.

Cynthia Lindquist, who leads Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten, N.D., said “she just doesn’t know” if she will sue, but she told the Associated Press Monday she was considering several options, including a lawsuit.

Lindquist, a UND alumna and adjunct faculty member at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, submitted her application for the university’s president job Wednesday, about three weeks after the Jan. 4 deadline.

Another late applicant, Minot State President Steven Shirley and UND alumnus, was among the 16 candidates interviewed Tuesday by the committee.

The committee previously decided to continue accepting applications up until the in-person interviews, which started Monday, but Hesham El-Rewini, the search committee's co-chair, implemented a cutoff date of noon Wednesday for "logistical reasons," a deadline Lindquist met.

The presidential search committee declined to interview her, but North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott requested her application be reconsidered.

Before the search committee started interviews Monday in Bloomington, Minn., a motion made to consider her application failed for lack of a second in the committee.

Committee members had questioned whether she was prepared to lead a university of UND’s size. Cankdeska Cikana is a college of about 250 students compared to UND’s enrollment of about 15,000.

Lindquist told the AP she was surprised the committee considered the size of her institution. She said she was also concerned she was passed over for a male candidate with similar experience, adding she’s seen a disconnect between rhetoric about inclusiveness and hiring women for presidential and leadership positions.

In her application, she told committee members that under her 13-year leadership, enrollment at Cankdeska Cikana had doubled and the graduation rate increased by 33 percent.

Lindquist once served as the executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission and has a doctorate in educational leadership from UND.

Billie Jo Lorius, a North Dakota University System spokeswoman, did not immediately return a call for comment.