NDUS Chancellor Meets With Governor Dalrymple, Bresciani Gets His Lawyer In The University System Office

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According to a source in the capitol, new North Dakota University System Chancellor Larry Skogen was seen going into Governor Jack Dalrymple’s office today. Skogen took over after the turbulent tenure of former Chancellor Hamid Shirvani and promised to “heal” the university system.

But there’s been little of that in his first days in office what with a major scandal over deleted emails at North Dakota State University, and that institution’s President Dean Bresciani accusing the system office of “compromising” his email inbox.

I sent a request for comment to Dalrymple spokesman Jeff Zent earlier today and received no response. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall in that room.

In related news, the reshuffling of personnel at the NDUS office that I posted about previously is absolutely taking place. A university system source tells me that there was an effort to terminate certain people who weren’t going along with Bresciani’s story on the emails. If that’s true, no terminations have happened yet, but there have absolutely been one change.

NDUS General Counsel Claire Holloway, whose email to Legislative Council was the first acknowledgment that tens of thousands of Bresciani’s emails had been deleted, is being “promoted” (that’s the spin according to a legislative source) and her replacement is, I’m not joking, NDSU Legal Counsel Craig Wilson.

Or the same guy Legislative Council thinks sent them an incomplete response to a request for Bresciani’s emails. Also the same guy I won an open records complaint against after he wanted to change me $2,000 to get copies of some emails previously.

In other words, in the midst of a controversy over broken open records laws and missing emails, we’re replacing the lawyer who communicated the fact that emails were deleted to the legislature with a lawyer who not only worked for the president being accused of breaking open records laws but has also tried (in my opinion) to sandbag requests for emails in the past.

I guess that’s just how the healing process is gonna go in the NDUS.

Discussion question: Given the absolute turmoil the university system is in – with Chancellor’s getting canned, allegations of major open records violations and a university president accusing his bosses of hacking his email – where has Governor Dalrymple been? Where’s his leadership? Where are his calls for accountability?

The problems in the university system could really use an “adult in the room” right now, and there’s nobody better suited to that task than the governor. But because of the much-heralded “independence” of the university system, which is set up as a sort of fourth branch of government accountable to no elected leader, Dalrymple has no political obligation to do any such thing.

If you could put your finger on one source of all the problems in higher education in North Dakota, it’s that lack of responsibility and accountability. The independence of the university system must be ended.

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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