Guest Post: Give Ham A Chance


When I read the Inforum column posted earlier this week entitled, “Public college students express “no confidence” in university chancellor, support buyout” the following verse came to mind.

For one thing, it is indelibly etched in my brain for life, and for another, I had spent an hour with Chancellor Ham Shirvani on the Legislature Today radio show which I co-hosted with Dale Wetzel last evening.

“I am Sam, Sam I am. I do not like Green Eggs and Ham.” — Dr. Seuss

Most parents of pre-schoolers have read, re-read and because of the 4-beat rhythm used in the composition of the classic work, “Green Eggs and Ham’ I would venture to guess many have it memorized.

The message is pretty straightforward: The protagonist, “Sam” has decided he does not like green eggs and ham no matter how the antagonist created by Seuss presents the fare. After a very long list is compiled, the plot thickens and the truth comes out: “Sam” has never really tried green eggs and Ham!

We know that when he does, he likes it, retraces his steps through former obstacles become opportunities and voilla! We have taught our little darlings a valuable life lesson:

Always try before you cry (or something like that).

I’m not a genius like Seuss, but you probably catch the drift -This whole “resolution of no-confidence” from the North Dakota Students Association – sounds a lot like Sam.

This “decision” is not necessarily a well-informed and objective assessment of Ham Shirvani as the chancellor of the University Campuses in North Dakota.

In my opinion, it is a thinly veiled guise for a system that is not interested in a hands on, no-nonsense chancellor who has done his homework.

Shirvani has brought forth some facts and figures that are startling to say the least. UND and NDSU tout the distinction of graduating only 23% of its starting freshmen in the university system after four years (National Average is 31%). In fact, after 6 years, just over half of those students are out of school. He has also expressed a need for staff to implement guidelines and standards, which by any other name are another nuisance to college presidents, Accountability.

Don’t get me wrong – the Board of Higher Education has had its share of problems with accountability for sure, but throwing $700,000 at the system to rid it of its latest “challenge” is hardly the answer.

Since the students seems to have lost the life lesson offered by Dr. Seuss in “Green Eggs and Ham,” how about a more age appropriate solution from the 60’s or 70’s…

“All we are saying is give Ham a chance”

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  • ND Observer

    The Chancellor had solid support from students last year, but lost all that support this year because of his autocratic and tyrannical behavior. It is the same with the legislature, esp. women legislators. He has offended many in a short time. Many of his ideas are good, but his leadership style and behavior is awful and should not be tolerated. It is reported in the state capitol that you can hear him scream and rant at staff for a long distance – a style of hostility and intimidation. No staff member is supposed to talk to a board member except through him. Why put up with that crap?

    • Nelly

      The student on the board last year was a puppet of Bresciani. He voted against Shirvani and as worked with NDSU, Grindberg (Flakoll supporter), and constantly put down Shirvani to the NDSA since before Shirvani was even on board. The current board member was in NDSA at NDSU last year and too worked against hiring Shirvani.

      Do you know Shirvani, have you met with him or is it just what you have heard? I have met him in a couple of public forums and I found him reasonable and highly intelligent.

  • broadway Joe

    When Dr Shirvani was origanlly hired there were unanswered questions about how he treated staff and faculty. Those records were sealed so we don’ t know what happened so I bring to question the apptitude of those that serve on the board of education. dr Shirvani is who he is and it is up to those entrusted to hire him to make good decisions. One member of the board was surprised at the amount of hostility that was being leveled at the good Dr as he was just implementing their list of things to do and the amount of money spent on the univeristy systems has increased dramaticlly. So the board thinks money will solve anything and in addition should we as taxpayers and in paticular those representing us, maybe quesiton the viabilty of the board of higher ed or those that serve on it since Dr Shirvani is an extention of that board?

  • JoeMN


    Although I reside across the border, I do still enjoy the distinct honor of watching my bank account shrink so one youngster may hopefully set sail from here.

    You say we should “give Ham a chance”

    Why is this ?

    Is it because Shirvani promises to make other staff accountable, the very thing he personally stands accused of neglecting by the students he ostensibly serves ?

    In this case, our young adult arrived a Sophomore.

    There are lots of reasons a freshman may choose to transfer. Many of these reasons are not in need of a solution.

    But some are.

    Would it bee too transparent to specifically point these out ?

    Some poster on the other thread called the student Senate members “spoiled” for their efforts to achieve accountability.

    I am actually surprised they did not opt for “racist” instead.

    Both are meant to shut down debate.

    Woof commented that “they went back to thinking of how to score sex, drugs and alcohol”.
    Although this is definitely true of a majority of students, it certainly is not for those few who take a genuine interest in the quality of their own education.

    Seems to me in today’s world, we should be encouraging, not deriding them

    • Roger

      Reasoned debate and inquiry should be encouraged. In this case the mob was roused by administrators and a few wannabe legislators (NDSA officers), and some presidents. There has been no reasoned debate, no reasoned inquiry. If one reads the reasons students provided for no confidence every official in this state could be accused of the same.

      This is about presidential power versus having to operate under a unified system. Nothing less, nothing more. Time for the presidents to realize we need a more efficient and accountable higher education system and not the status quo.

      • JoeMN

        Time for the presidents to realize we need a more efficient and accountable higher education system and not the status quo.


        This sounds great in theory, but the question is how do we get there ?

        What Shirvani wants is a consolidation of control at the top, with him.
        The system needs to have one voice and be focused on what is best for the whole state, he said.

        “We have to work together,” he said. “It’s not about my college, my school, my district because this is a system.”


        To the student it IS about my school, my class, my education.
        Behold how quickly they have been dismissed as “beer chugging brats”

        I agree that “one voice” would be much more EFFICIENT at lobbying the legislature for more, but at the same time much less EFFECTIVE at addressing concerns of those who should be the focal point,their customers (students)

        But which would better accomplish this ?

        A chain of command, from student, to student body senate, to president, to chancellor ?

        Or from student and president directly ?

        I believe this mirrors the consolidation of power at the federal level in this country as well.

        Sure, you can still call your local mayor or council member when the burned out street light isn’t getting fixed.

        But a fat lot of good that does when the city is hogtied, and waiting on a grant to change out all the street lights to some federally mandated “efficient” one, which will cost the city five times more to replace, plus requires three more monkeys to unscrew, totally negating any energy savings.

        The politicians then applaud themselves on how energy efficient your street now is.

        Meanwhile you sit in the dark, while the email you sent your Senator in DC is countered with a full inbox of automatically generated contribution requests
        If only you had a powerful lobbyist.

  • Roy_Bean

    It isn’t a matter of giving “Ham” a chance, this isn’t really about Ham or Cheese or Rye, this is about a university system that is broken. It’s time to change the system not just find another chancellor.

  • Kevin Flanagan

    Taxpayers and students have been abused for too long by the greedy educrats and tenured pointy heads in this state.

  • Stuart

    Can we still justify the Boards vetting of this guy? Like a Obsma vetting Van Jones. The Chancellor had a 94 % disapproval rating from staff in California . I guess we’ve lowered our standards for investigating the past of any person we hire in the College system. When I was in high school the principle caught the music teacher in pedophilia, and sent him on to a larger school in Mpls. It’s a wonderful world. Let someone else deal with the problem.
    Another guy older was a friend of mine and I had no idea , and would not have believed it because of my niavity ,but it didn’t stop the perpetrator from bragging to me he had seduced that friend.
    Of course teacher wouldn’t be called a homosexual by some. Vetting is the focus point.

    • Kevin Flanagan

      Nothing was learned from the Robert Potts and Joseph Chapman fiascoes!

  • Snarkie

    I’ll have some horse sashimi with my eggs.

    • Snarkie


      I hardly even know you.

  • C. Y.

    It looks to me like the SBHE hired Hamm to do the dirty work they didn’t have the balz to do themselves. They afraid to admit this to the public and legislature so Hamm is taking the heat. Maybe that’s what they intended.