Paulsen denied a second term on ed board
State Capitol Bureau BISMARCK - The Chancellor Robert Potts controversy came back to bite John Q. Paulsen on Tuesday. As a result, he won't get a second term on the state Board of Higher Education. A state nominating committee decided not to nomi...
State Capitol Bureau
BISMARCK - The Chancellor Robert Potts controversy came back to bite John Q. Paulsen on Tuesday. As a result, he won't get a second term on the state Board of Higher Education.
A state nominating committee decided not to nominate Paulsen, of Fargo, and he'll leave the board when his term ends on June 30.
"I'm disappointed but not surprised," Paulsen said after receiving the news.
Paulsen said he knew Potts was an issue for many in the state, including legislators.
Paulsen is finishing a four-year term that began July 1, 2004. He was eligible for a second four-year term and is finishing a second one-year term as board president.
The nominating committee forwarded three finalists for Gov. John Hoeven's consideration.
They are retired Adjutant Gen. Michael Haugen of Fargo, Bismarck attorney and former gubernatorial legal counsel Robert Harms, and Duane Pool, who works for the Nature Conservancy.
Nominating committee members who considered eight applicants - including Paulsen - discussed Paulsen's role in forcing former University System Chancellor Potts out of office in 2006, and a severance package the board gave Potts.
Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle, one of five on the committee, referred to "the Potts fiasco that was not handled well."
Superintendent of Public Instruction Wayne Sanstead later echoed VandeWalle, also using the word "fiasco."
Potts was forced out when the board would not back him up in a power struggle with North Dakota State University President Joe Chapman.
Board members sided with Chapman. Paulsen was and is regarded as a strong ally of Chapman's, though the nominating committee did not mention Chapman or NDSU directly.
Potts had nearly a year remaining on his contract when he left at the end of July 2006. He was given a severance package in which he was to do consulting work for a year for $224,750.
Potts said Tuesday that the board and university system office never gave him any work. He is now chancellor at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
Paulsen said last July that Potts wasn't given any work because "Chancellor Dunn was providing all the services we needed."
Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, said he's received many phone calls about the Potts episode, especially the severance package. With the board now seeking a 53 percent funding increase from the 2009 Legislature, the combination "leaves a sour message," he said.
VandeWalle also said there seems to be mistrust of the board. He said it was a bad sign that when the search committee for a new University of North Dakota president was instructed to produce three names, it submitted only one.
"Apparently they don't trust the board to make that decision and that's bothersome," the chief justice said.
Another legislator on the nominating committee, House Speaker Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood, said the board "is not working" and that the board has been invited to meet with the Legislature's Budget Section, but it hasn't accepted.
During the voting, Delzer said he couldn't vote for Paulsen.
"I'm not going to support him either," Cook said.
Hoeven must pick from the three names given him. He can't reject the list and tell the nominating committee to start over.
The other applicants were Mandan financial adviser Robert Wetsch; Dickinson teacher Heather Hertz who lives in Mott; retired teacher Gordon Brandvold of Devils Lake and Randy Schwartz of Bismarck, chief executive officer for the Dakota Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. She can be reached at (701) 224-0830 or firstname.lastname@example.org