Dear Campus Community-As many of you know, it has recently been suggested that I deleted some 45,000 emails,ostensibly to avoid a public records request regarding former Chancellor Hamid Shirvani. Iinitially chose to not dignify the assertion hoping that my reputation for integrity or at least arecognition of some intelligence would render the assertion ridiculous. I also assumed that thegross impracticality of me deleting 45,000 emails, if in fact our email system would even allowdoing so, would speak for itself.More specifically, I assumed that the notion of one person deleting 45,000 emails in a single day
(I’ll add that it was a day I was in scheduled public meetings from
8am until late evening) wouldin itself sound suspect. Even more interestingly, that would be an aside to the 900 pages of emails which I did turn over in response to the public records request; that I had45,000
emails on the same topic seemed far-fetched.As soon as we became aware of the matter, NDSU staff vigorously pursued anexplanation. What they learned was that a North Dakota University System staff member (whohas remained nameless), several weeks ago notified an individual state legislator (who hasremained nameless), that the emails had been deleted from my account at roughly the same timeas the public records request. The legislator subsequently made an inquiry to legislative councilregarding the alleged deletions.In fact, NDSU has not yet been able to verify that emails were deleted. If they were deleted, italso remains unclear when it occurred. An email from system staff indicates that emails weredeleted before the public records request was received. On June 17, System IT Vice Chancellor Randall Thursday, in an email to System General Counsel Claire Holloway and legislativecouncil, states that emails were deleted in the two weeks before the public records request.Why the System staff member reported the situation to an individual legislator rather thanthrough administrative channels remains in question. Why someone ultimately leaked thealleged findings to media and blog sites also remains in question.So far, we have discovered two important factors:
In April, System IT staff enabled a new feature, which on a periodic basis, automatically purges emails fromthe trash folder. It is possible, particularly given the quantity of emails I have received since coming to NDSUthree years ago, that my email was in fact purged of some segment of my email trash folder. NDSU is workingin collaboration with Microsoft to look in to that possibility.2)
In a troubling turn of events, NDSU’s forensic evaluation of my email also revealed that it has been
compromised, on a range of dates during the time frame under study, by a variety of computer accountscontrolled by the North Dakota University System office without notification to me or anyone at NDSU. It is myunderstanding that these staff have full access and control of my email account. You can imagine my chagrinat the discovery.
The short version is simply that I cannot imagine a means much less a motivation for me toselectively delete 45,000 emails, particularly to avoid a public records request to which I