Former advising director responds to petition after dismissal


Amy Rundstrom. Courtesy photo

Jenna Heinz

Amy Rundstrom, the director of academic advising and career development at UNK, is sharing details after being removed from her position. On March 21, Rundstrom had a meeting with Kelly Bartling, her supervisor: this is when she learned of her dismissal. Todd Gottula, the senior director of communications and marketing at UNK, confirmed that those present at the meeting were Bartling and Rundstrom only.

Rundstrom said the dismissal was “very much out of the blue.” 

“We had the meeting and through the course of it, I said, ‘Wait a minute, are you firing me?’” Rundstrom said. “She (Bartling) said ‘One way or another, we are parting ways today.’ She said that multiple times, like three times in the meeting.”

Rundstrom said Bartling then handed her a letter that said she was terminated. 

“I tried to talk her out of it,” Rundstrom said. “Aren’t you supposed to get a chance to fix any mistakes that you’ve made? But nope.”

Bartling was contacted to provide comment but was unable to speak on the matter.

“There are legal ramifications to all matters surrounding personnel,” Bartling said. “It’s not appropriate for the university to engage in discussion about an employment matter.”

Bartling directed The Antelope to Gottula for further comment. Gottula said the university will not discuss particular circumstances of an employee’s departure.

“Providing information about an employee’s departure is a privacy issue,” Gottula said. “We have an obligation to maintain confidentiality on personnel matters.”

Rundstrom said that being too honest and speaking her mind could be what led to her dismissal.

“I just think they have plans that they thought I wasn’t going to like, that I would kick up a fuss about, that I would fight against and that it was easier to fulfill those plans without me,” Rundstrom said. “I guess I always saw UNK as my family, and to be booted out of your family so abruptly with no warning — I thought was pretty heartless.”

The dismissal of Rundstrom kickstarted a petition written by Carol Lilly, a UNK history professor. Lilly said the sudden dismissal of Rundstrom without any written explanation or previous notice was shocking. She created the petition, asking that others are not treated the same way.

As of April 25, the petition has received 239 signatures. Rundstrom said she is amazed at how impassioned other people have been on her behalf and on behalf of the staff. 

“I’m shocked at how many people signed it,” Rundstrom said. “I am saddened that so many people felt that they couldn’t sign it and were even afraid to sign it anonymously because they feel like their positions would be jeopardized. That makes me sad.”

Lilly doesn’t know what the petition’s future holds, but for her, it was important to create it even if immediate consequences aren’t seen.

“I don’t necessarily expect anything dramatic to happen in the short term,” Lilly said. “But I’m a historian so I tend to take a long perspective on things. A lot of things that don’t have immediate consequences, you can look back and say, ‘Oh, yeah, you see this started here,’ and the actual consequences of it didn’t happen until sometimes months, years later. But you have to start with something.”

Lilly said The History Department will be hosting a “Thank You Celebration” for Amy Rundstrom at the Alumni House on May 17 from 4-7 p.m. The celebration will be open to all, including students across campus and beyond.