Somehow, The State Board Of Higher Education Wasn’t Aware Of Their New Chancellor’s Secretary Problem
Earlier this week I wrote about a legal settlement I had found between incoming North Dakota University System Chancellor Hamid Shirvani and a former assistant at his previous employer, the University of California Stanislaus.
I hadn’t seen the settlement reported anywhere, and it wasn’t clear to me that the SBHE even knew about the matter. So earlier this week I emailed their public relations person, John Irby, who relayed my request to Board President Grant Shaft. I didn’t get an answer back today, but according to Shaft (by way of Irby) the SBHE didn’t know about the settlement despite claiming to have conducted an extensive background check:
Neither the Search Committee nor the SBHE were aware of the reported 2008 matter prior to the selection of Dr. Shirvani. No details of the matter are known. The Search Committee and the SBHE utilized AGB search consultants who performed extensive civil and criminal background checks on all of the candidates. With regard to Dr. Shirvani, his record was reported clear with no issues that would negatively impact his role as Chancellor. From the article presented, and without knowing the details, it appears that this was a matter that was routinely settled by the insurance company for what the legal community refers to as “nuisance damages”. Which typically means that there wasn’t any substance to the allegations, but the costs of the likely defense were offered for final resolve to the situation. This is underscored by the fact that Dr. Shirvani remained as President of CSU until his recent hiring, without any disciplinary action, and received high recommendations from his Chancellor, legislators, staff, faculty and students for his performance as President of CSU.
Back when I was a private investigator, one thing that was always stressed to me was that you can’t just rely on online searches. Even in this modern digital age, you shill have to make phone calls and footwork to find the information. But in this case, it appears the opposite was true. If the service the SBHE retained did, indeed, do an “extensive” search they must not have bothered to type Mr. Shirvani’s name into Google because there’s a report about this incident available on the internet.
If the “extensive” background vetting the chancellor candidates missed this, what else did it miss?
Shaft is dismissive of the incident, saying it’s likely a “nuisance damages” settlement. Meaning that it amounts to frivolous allegations made by an underling for the express purpose of getting a settlement.
That’s, sadly, a common enough phenomena, but does Shaft really know that for certain? Are he and the SBHE not even going to ask Shirvani about the matter or investigate it further? They’re just going to write it off? You’d like to think they’d make some effort to get to the bottom of this, but it doesn’t appear as though they’re going to.
I guess that’s what you do when you get caught having missed something like this after you already hired the guy and gave him a $100,000 raise over his predecessor. And because Shaft and the rest of the university system is accountable to nobody – not the taxpayers or any of our elected officials – there’s nothing we can do about it.
Meanwhile, in California, it doesn’t exactly sound like they’re unhappy to be seeing Shirvani go:
It’s difficult to determine who’s happier about his move — the president, who is advancing to a more influential position in a state with a strong economy, or the growing number of faculty members and city residents who are fed up with Shirvani’s brashness and disparaging remarks about Turlock.
We give Shirvani mixed reviews for his leadership over almost six years at CSUS: While there’s no doubt he sought to improve the university, and while he deserves credit for some accomplishments, his leadership style not only wasn’t always conducive to success but at times prevented it.
It’s important to note that Shirvani will leave Stanislaus with the university facing some major challenges, among them the need for more painful budget cuts and satisfying the concerns of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission over strained administration-faculty relations.
Anyone else wishing we’d heard a bit more about this guy both from the university officials and the media before he was hired?Tags: Grant Shaft, hamid shirvani, john irby, North Dakota News, north dakota univeresity system, state board of higher education