University of Iowa hires Husch Blackwell’s attorney as new general counsel

James D. Jorgensen, senior attorney at Husch Blackwell LLP in Denver, Colorado, was named vice president of legal affairs and general counsel for the University of Iowa on Thursday. It is expected to start on September 30. (Provided by the University of Iowa)

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa is bringing a former assistant general counsel back to campus — who over the past year has advised colleges on sexual misconduct policies and conducted internal Title IX investigations — to succeed Carroll Reasoner as vice president for legal affairs and general counsel.

James D. Jorgensen, who served as associate Unemployment Insurance attorney and assistant general counsel from 2006 to 2018, will begin as Unemployment Insurance general counsel on September 30. He will earn an annual salary of $385,000.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Iowa State University, a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School, and a doctorate from UI in education policy and leadership studies, he left UI in 2018 to become chief of staff and legal director. attorney at Pitzer College in Claremont, California.

He started as a senior attorney at Husch Blackwell LLP in Denver, Colorado, in March 2021 – just over a year before he was named one of three finalists for the position of general counsel for unemployment insurance. .

Announcing Jorgensen’s hiring on Thursday, UI President Barbara Wilson said in a statement that she was delighted he was joining UI “in this crucial position.”

While at Husch Blackwell, according to Jorgensen’s resume, he advised colleges and universities on many issues — like student conduct and faculty discipline and sexual misconduct policies — and he led “internal investigations under Title IX, non-discrimination and harassment and retaliation.

Jorgensen also conducted training on best practices in internal investigations and Title IX compliance for coordinators, investigators, and hearing and appeals officers, his resume shows.

Husch Blackwell was the law firm that UI Athletics hired in June 2020 to conduct an “independent review of issues and allegations related to racial disparities within the football program” after former black student-athletes expressed their concerns. grievances on social media.

Husch Blackwell interviewed players and coaches as part of this investigation, and UI in July 2020 released a 26-page “external review report” of the company. UI hasn’t released all of Husch Blackwell’s investigative reports, however, and players who sued the institution recently took the matter to a federal judge.

Earlier this summer, the judge ordered UI, among other things, to turn over all Husch Blackwell documents – including reports on head football coach Kirk Ferentz, assistant coaches Brian Ferentz and Seth Wallace and former strength coach Chris Doyle.

UI officials said Jorgensen was not involved in Husch Blackwell’s review of UI’s football program, which was “completed before Jorgensen joined the company”.

As UI’s assistant general counsel for 12 years, Jorgensen – according to his resume – “successfully defended the university in external complaint investigations and regulatory investigations before the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education, Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions, Iowa Civil Rights Commission, and Iowa Department of Transportation.

His publications include a 2009 assessment of post-secondary litigation, specifically examining First Amendment issues and institutions facing legal challenges involving organizations denying membership to non-Christians or gay people.

UI faced such a problem eight years later, in 2017, when one of its faith-based student organizations, Business Leaders in Christ, refused to allow a gay member to serve as a leader.

This member complained to UI management, which prompted UI to deregister the group known as BLinC. The student group filed a lawsuit, prompting IU to take a broader stance against faith-based organizations that restrict membership, which forced InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to pursue another lawsuit.

In December 2021, a federal judge sided with student organizations and ordered UI to pay nearly $2 million in attorney fees and damages.

In a statement, Jorgensen said he was “thrilled to be returning to the University of Iowa and looking forward to the opportunity to work with President Wilson and her team.”

Reasoner has served as vice president of legal affairs and general counsel since 2008. She earned a total salary of $354,347 in March, according to Unemployment Insurance records.

“Carroll is the embodiment of what is fundamentally good about our institution, and it was an honor to have had the opportunity to work with her,” Wilson said in a statement. “She was ready to retire a year ago, and I’m so grateful that she agreed to stay on during my first year as president.”

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