North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple recently met with newly-hired Chancellor of Higher Education Hamid Shirvani who will be taking over for current Chancellor Bill Goetz who is retiring later this year. Shirvani was hired through a fairly competitive process that saw him picked over a state legislator and two other higher ed officials from out of state.
But here’s an interesting tid-bit from Shirvani’s past. In 2008 when he was President of California State University, Stanislaus Mr. Shirvani was sued by a former assistant after an incident which occurred at a lunch meeting. The assistant got $10,000 as part of the settlement (I have a copy of it below), and was allowed to take six months of paid leave.
Did North Dakota’s Board of Higher Education know about this incident when they hired Shirvani? Do they know the details of what happened at that lunch which resulted in this legal settlement? I wrote to the North Dakota University System’s public relations person, former Bismarck Tribune editor John Irby, and he directed my questions earlier this week to SBHE President Grant Shaft.
So far, it’s just crickets from Shaft.
Of course, that’s nothing unusual from our university system, which seems to take pride in being less-than-transparent with the public. Recently the university system saw another problem with an employee, NDSU Women’s Athletics Director Lynn Dorn, who was suspended for two weeks for a harassment incident involving a student. What sort of harassment? When I asked, NDSU’s legal department told me the information was “privileged” (I’ve since filed an open records complaint over that denial).
It bothers me that we have these people working for the state’s university system, managing large budgets and interacting with students, despite problems in their backgrounds that both they and the university system are being less than transparent about.