Former executive director of Oregon’s JPR sues over dismissal

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The former executive director of Oregon’s Jefferson Public Radio has filed a lawsuit against Southern Oregon University and the Oregon University System alleging blacklisting and breach of contract in his March 2012 dismissal, among other claims.

Ron KramerSOU dismissed longtime JPR chief Ron Kramer after a university audit found a conflict of interest between his roles as both head of JPR and as executive director of the JPR Foundation, a related nonprofit that had undertaken restoration of historic properties. Yet the university had previously approved of Kramer’s dual role, the lawsuit claims.

According to the lawsuit, SOU first proposed in February 2012 that Kramer should resign as executive director of the Foundation. Kramer then filed a grievance with the university, which it rejected, the lawsuit says.

He filed another grievance in July, and a grievance committee of the university found that SOU President Mary Cullinan failed to comply with university policies in dismissing Kramer.

The lawsuit also points out that Paul Westhelle, who replaced Kramer as executive director of JPR, is now serving in the same role with the JPR Foundation as well.

Kramer is seeking $1,275,000 in damages for each of three of the lawsuit’s claims. He is also seeking $90,000 in damages on a claim of breach of contract and $10,000 in unpaid penalty wages. The suit names Cullinan and George Pernsteiner, chancellor of the Oregon University System, as defendants.

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