Shirvani Involved In “Near-Constant Strife” Across Multiple Universities Since 1990

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Even after Chancellor Hamid Shirvani and the State Board of Higher Education backed off their push to build a large chancellor’s suite in a building intended for university system IT workers, state Senator Tony Grindberg and others are intent on pushing he chancellor out. Mostly because this issue is about far more than the office. Shirvani’s relationship with elected leaders, and other university system officials, has deteriorated to the point of being unworkable according to multiple sources.

These claims are all the more believable given Shirvani’s long track record problems in other states and at other universities. It’s well-known that Shirvani went through a “no confidence” vote at his previous university in California, but even before that he was pushed out at an institution in Colorado. The Turlock City News, hometown newspaper for Stanislaus University where Shirvani used to work, chronicles a history of “near-constant strife” across multiple universities since at least 1990:

Shirvani has been engaged in near-constant strife with faculty members across many different universities since, at least, as early as May 1990. At that time, Shirvani was forced to resign from a position as Dean of the University of Colorado, Denver School of Architecture and Planning.

The resignation came “under duress,” according to a National Architectural Accrediting Board report cited in a 1991 Denver Post article. The article goes on to state that Shirvani’s actions led to an “adversarial relationship” with faculty, leading to the exodus of nearly half of the program’s faculty members in just three years of leadership.

The UCD architecture master’s degree program’s accreditation was ultimately put on probation due to the turmoil.

A similar fate befell CSU Stanislaus a decade later. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges required a follow-up visit as part of a 2011 accreditation review due to “long-simmering tensions between faculty and the senior administration.”

A November 2009 vote by CSU Stanislaus faculty found that 90 percent had no confidence in Shirvani, and 91 percent had no confidence in his leadership. Hostile working relationships and a lack of shared governance were cited as the biggest problems.

During a visit to the capitol an elected official told me that that the State Board of Higher Education had done a lousy job of vetting Shirvani. The members of the SBHE had better hope that view proliferates, because it looks worse for them if they knew of Shirvani’s problems and hired him anyway.

As I’ve reported previously, despite claiming to have done a background check, the SBHE wasn’t even aware of Shirvani’s conflict with a secretary at a previous employer which resulted in that secretary taking a monetary settlement. I found the news via a simple Google Search, but SBHE member Grant Shaft admitted the board hadn’t been aware of it at all before Shirvani’s hire.

Despite a sloppy screening process, the State Board of Higher Education not only hired Shirvani but gave him a $120,000 raise over predecessor Bill Goetz. Goetz made $220,000/year. Shirvani is, apparently, making $340,000/year. The amount of Shirvani’s raise, by itself, is more than Governor Jack Dalrymple’s $113,000/year salary.

But there’s nothing new about the university system being careless with taxpayer dollars. That’s something to keep in mind when people gripe about the cost of getting rid of Shirvani. That he needs to go is indisputable (as well as the fact that big reform to the university needs to follow his departure), but that we’re in the position of having to give him a huge pay-day on his way out is the fault of the SBHE board members.

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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  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    It’s all just O-P-M to all these educrats.

  • Paul

    Hammy has only been on the job for about six months and is already in hot water. It makes one wonder what is going on behind that friendly, grandfatherly image.

  • somebodysomewhere

    Why should he be on his way out? He is obviously trying to reform the University system – which it OBVIOUSLY needs. I personally don’t know Shirvani, but I have a sense that he is under fire from the rabid NDSU & UND supporters who feel their school is too elite to be managed by a Chancellor. What is not printed in the article above (but was printed in the Trib yesterday), is the fact that he did receive “President of the Year” award from the student government body of the 23-campus state university system in California. Staff there didn’t like his “aggressive and authoritarian management style”, so they gave him a no-confidence vote. Sounds like staff there didn’t want to change old habits that needed changing. Think about it, does this sound a little familiar to you? It’s pretty close to home. Let him do his job.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I actually liked some of Shirvani’s reforms, but one way or another he’s got to go. We need a university system that can actually be governed, and is under the control of someone who is, in turn, elected by the people.

      Maybe that’s the governor. Maybe that’s an elected chancellor. Either way, we can’t keep doing things the way we are.

      • somebodysomewhere

        NDSU & UND severely need an aggressive management style. We have had problems with the board in the past that would not push for NDSU & UND to comply with the authority of the Chancellor, and the board didn’t back the Chancellor. Now we have a Chancellor with a backbone, and board members who support him. And the two Universities (and their supporters) are up in arms about it. This is a shame.

    • Alan

      I agree. Just like the issue with the technology building there are so many misleading articles and statements from people who have not done their research that one has to question the real purpose of the articles. Creating an inflammatory article on half truths is easy. Doing the research and writing factual articles is much harder.

    • DelawareBeachHouse

      My thought, too. He was hired to change things. Avast, change!

  • Roy_Bean

    The only real question is if the SBHE was incompetent for not vetting him or incompetent for hiring him anyway. Is one better than the other? They were incompetent either way. I hope people don’t lose track of the fact that the chancellor is not the real problem, he is a result of the real problem.

  • PK

    I find it interesting that Shirvani is a Knight in the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. He is literally a soldier of a different, sovereign nation.

    • Get Your Facts Straight

      No he is not “literally a soldier of a different sovereign nation”. It has nothing to do with the military at all. Malta does not award this honor–the Catholic Church does.

      Wikipedia states:

      “The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order of, traditionally, a military, chivalrousand noble nature.[5] It is the world’s oldest surviving order of chivalry.[6] The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is headquartered in Rome, and is widely considered a sovereign subject ofinternational law.[7]

      SMOM is the modern continuation of the original medieval order of Saint John of Jerusalem,[8] known as the Knights Hospitaller, a group founded in Jerusalem about 1050 as an Amalfitanhospital to provide care for poor and sick pilgrims to the Holy Land. After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade, it became a military order under its own charter. Following the loss of Christian held territories of the Holy Land to Muslims, the Order operated from Rhodes (1310–1523), and later from Malta (1530–1798), over which it was sovereign.

      Although this state came to an end with the ejection of the Order from Malta by Napoleon, the Order as such survived. It retains its claims of sovereignty under international law and has been granted permanent observer status at the United Nations.[9]

      Today the order has about 13,000 members; 80,000 permanent volunteers; and 20,000 medical personnel including doctors, nurses, auxiliaries and paramedics in more than 120 countries.[3] The goal is to assist the elderly, handicapped, refugeed, children, homeless, those with terminal illness and leprosy in five continents of the world, without distinction of race or religion.[3] In several countries—including France, Germany and Ireland—the local associations of the Order are important providers of first aid training, first aid services and emergency medical services. Through its worldwide relief corps—Malteser International—the Order is also engaged to aid victims of natural disasters, epidemics and armed conflicts.”

      You see, there is nothing sinister about his membership in this group. Get your facts straight before you make silly statements.

    • PK

      Different meaning foreign.

    • Tired of Stupid People

      PK–You clearly do not know what you are talking about. He is not “literally a soldier of a different, sovereign nation.”

      According to Wikipedia:

      The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order of, traditionally, a military, chivalrousand noble nature.[5] It is the world’s oldest surviving order of chivalry.[6] The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is headquartered in Rome, and is widely considered a sovereign subject ofinternational law.[7]

      SMOM is the modern continuation of the original medieval order of Saint John of Jerusalem,[8] known as the Knights Hospitaller, a group founded in Jerusalem about 1050 as a hospital to provide care for poor and sick pilgrims to the Holy Land. After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade, it became a military order under its own charter. Following the loss of Christian held territories of the Holy Land to Muslims, the Order operated from Rhodes (1310–1523), and later from Malta (1530–1798), over which it was sovereign.

      Although this state came to an end with the ejection of the Order from Malta by Napoleon, the Order as such survived. It retains its claims of sovereignty under international law and has been granted permanent observer status at the United Nations.[9]

      Today the order has about 13,000 members; 80,000 permanent volunteers; and 20,000 medical personnel including doctors, nurses, auxiliaries and paramedics in more than 120 countries.[3] The goal is to assist the elderly, handicapped, refugeed, children, homeless, those with terminal illness and leprosy in five continents of the world, without distinction of race or religion.[3] In several countries—including France, Germany and Ireland—the local associations of the Order are important providers of first aid training, first aid services and emergency medical services. Through its worldwide relief corps—Malteser International—the Order is also engaged to aid victims of natural disasters, epidemics and armed conflicts.

      God puts limits on intelligence but not on stupidity!

  • fredlave

    The members of the Higher Ed Board should be fired along with Shirvani for not doing their due diligence when they were supposed to be vetting him. As a taxpayer I’m getting tired of watching these incompetent windbags p*ss away my state tax dollars. With eleven (mostly) small colleges we don’t need a Higher Ed Board or a chancellor. Consider the Higher Ed Board a failed experiment and bring higher education back under legislative control.

  • mike

    He would make an ideal Catholic priest.

    • Tired of Stupid People

      What a stupid and bigoted comment! Please crawl back under your rock.

      • mike

        The catholic church earned the reputation of passing one bad priest onto the next congregation. If they didn’t want the reputation they should have cleaned up their act.

        • Tired of Stupid People

          Again, your bigotry is showing. You do realize Protestant groups have just as much and/or higher incidences of sex abuse but there is no interest in these groups. Furthermore, the public ed system has unbelievable instances of sex abuse and no one is the least bit interested. Abusing teachers are STILL passed on to other districts. Where’s the outrage? In addition, every school district has a cap on the amount available to such victims. Have you seen the study of sex abuse in the NY school system? Estimated 225,000 children abused?

          It is interesting to note various states demanded the statue of limitations be lifted ONLY for the Catholic Church in cases stemming back 25, 30, 40, and 50 years ago.

          Of course I do not condone abuse. But you need to get your facts straight. The Church was an easy target for all those who hate the Church. Furthermore, the Church is the ONLY group to have in place a wide ranging system intended to avoid this problem in the future. Are you aware the Hare Krishnas were sued $400,000,000 for 500 cases of sex abuse in 2004? Probably not as the media showed no interest.

          Read Double Standard by David Pierre and learn something.

          Your faux outrage is simply a mask for your bigotry and anti-Catholicism.

          • mike

            Did the Protestants, the NY school system, and the Hare Krishnas pass their deviants on to the next town without any warning of past misdeeds?

          • Tired of Stupid People

            If you think they did not and continue to do so, you are stuck on stupid.

  • Opinion8ed

    Divvy up the severance pay and let those who hired him pay him off, the taxpayers had no say

  • Lynn Bergman

    What did the board of higher education expect when they hired a guy that takes half a page in the Bismarck Tribune to say “I believe in lifelong learning”. The most expensive blowhard in North Dakota higher education history. It’s time to eliminate the board and elect a Higher Ed. Supt. every four years… with an appointed chancellor that can be fired in a heartbeat without any compensation.

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