ND Higher Ed Board President: DSU Scandal Shows How Awesomely Accountable We Are

Sure Dickinson State University President Richard McCallum was caught red-handed trying to inflate his institution’s enrollment numbers with phony students. Sure he has since been fired by the State Board of Higher Education.

But does anyone really believe this latest debacle to take place in North Dakota’s university system is evidence of a system that’s working well? Grant Shaft, president of the State Board of Higher Education, wants you to think just that apparently:

In an interview today on the Scott Hennen Show, Shaft strongly disagreed with critics of the NDUS system who frequently argue that there is no accountability for the appointed officials running the university system.

“We have 33 accountability measures that were adopted through the legislature. It is a very thorough report. I don’t know where you could find any more accountability that this university system has,” said Shaft. “If you look, the legislature this time was of the opinion that we were held overly accountable, and they reduced some of the measures that we even have to report on.”

“We did learn something out of the Joe Chapman incident, and we adopted new policies,” Shaft continued. “We brought an internal auditor into the system, and you are seeing at DSU the fruits of that process. This is something we knew of immediately.”

In a large system such as NDUS, Shaft acknowledged that there will always be some problems present. “What we need to do is be able to find these situations right when they come about,” said Shaft, “get our auditors in there, get a full report, and take action. That’s what happened this time.”

Catching government officials with their hand in the cookie jar is all well and good, at least we can say we caught them, but shouldn’t the standard be keeping government officials from sticking their hands in the cookie jar in the first place?

Shaft has a rather strange criteria for accountability.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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