ASU scientist and former dean sues University, President Michael Crow, alleging retaliation and harassment

An ASU scientist and administrator is suing the University, administrators like President Michael Crow and the Arizona Board of Regents. The scientist, Deirdre Meldrum, is alleging breach of contract, misrepresentation and retaliation, according to the complaint filed with the Maricopa County Superior Court.

She was brought to the University in 2006 as dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and then took on a role as a senior scientist following her replacement as dean. 

In 2014, Meldrum sent a letter to then-Gov. Jan Brewer and then-Attorney General Tom Horne, in which she claims to expose multiple years of mismanagement of funds and abuse of power by University officials. 

However, she received no response from this administration, the suit claims, prompting her to resubmit her letter to a new governor and attorney general a year later.

The letter claims Meldrum's pay was below that of other University employees in comparable positions, and that Crow failed to deliver on promises of millions of dollars in funding. 

When she brought her concerns to Crow in 2009, he did nothing but chastise her, the letter claims.

Within the next several months, she was replaced as dean and offered a position as an ASU senior scientist.

Following the renewed submission of her letter in 2015, Meldrum was asked to meet with University administrators, according to the suit.

At this meeting, she was told her position as senior scientist would not be renewed, and she would assume a position as a professor within the Schools of Electrical, Chemical and Energy Engineering. 

In the suit and letter, Meldrum claims the acts against her were evidence of retaliation and broken promises, and that her case is one instance in a culture of financial mismanagement, misappropriation of academic credit and broken promises to big-name professors brought on to the University. 

However, the University said any changes to Meldrum's status within the institution are a result of her performance, not of retaliation. 

"The decrease in institutional support for her work is directly tied to the marked decline in the success of her peer-reviewed research proposals relative to the amount of investment the University has made in her work," a statement on ASU's media relations site read.

"Over the past five years, her record in securing research funds has declined precipitously, to less than $500,000 in fiscal 2014 and zero in fiscal 2015," it continues. 

Representatives from the University, the University's Office of the President, ABOR and Meldrum could not be reached for comment. 

Editor's Note: Clarification has been added.


Reach the reporter at Arren.Kimbel-Sannit@asu.edu or follow @akimbelsannit on Twitter.

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