Next ND higher ed chancellor won’t be voted on by presidents
BISMARCK - As the state Board of Higher Education moves forward in its search for a new chancellor, university presidents have a say, but not a vote.
BISMARCK – As the state Board of Higher Education moves forward in its search for a new chancellor, university presidents have a say, but not a vote.
That’s a change from previous search committees, and also from the original proposal for this one, which would have included four presidents.
North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani recently described the process to the NDSU Development Foundation.
“They took a step back, made a committee of the whole board and bumped off some of the people originally identified as being on the committee, myself included,” he said.
University presidents in North Dakota have clashed with the university system’s chancellor in the past over how much control the chancellor has over individual campuses.
Hamid Shirvani, the most recent chancellor to serve in a permanent capacity, was ousted in 2013 in part due to criticism from school presidents.
The board always makes the final decision on a president or chancellor search, said interim Chancellor Larry Skogen last week. What’s different in this search is that they’re also making earlier decisions.
Presidents are now serving in an “advisory capacity,” Bresciani said, meaning they do not vote.
The board passed this motion Nov. 6, and at the time, several board members said it would help presidents.
Kevin Melicher said the decision would allow presidents to offer input but also “make sure they weren’t uncomfortable voicing their opinions one way or another.”
“We don’t want a situation where a president votes against somebody and then needs to work with that person in the future,” said board Chairwoman Kirsten Diederich, referencing an email from member Grant Shaft.
Only faculty adviser Janice Hoffarth said she thought presidents should be voting members.
“If we say the board is the committee and only the board votes on this, I think we’re doing a disservice to our institutions,” she said.
Diederich replied that listening sessions would allow the institutions, as well as business leaders and the public, to be heard.
“We’ll work with them so that we have buy-in from everybody before we put this together,” she said.
Diederich, Skogen and a representative of Skogen’s cabinet, along with a group of consultants, is expected to have drafted a new definition for the chancellor position by Jan. 8.
The board’s timeline calls for it to interview finalists in May.
Skogen, who was the president of Bismarck State College, has been the temporary head of the university system since Shirvani’s contract was bought out for nearly $1 million in June 2013.
The board postponed the search for a new chancellor until after last month’s election, which included a ballot measure that would have replaced the part-time higher education board and the chancellor with a three-member panel of full-time education commissioners.
The ballot measure was defeated.