University Presidents Claim Disclosure Of Evaluations On SAB Was Illegal

According to KX News, Minot State University president David Fuller is claiming the disclosure of his evaluation on this blog was illegal because he hadn’t had a chance to review it yet. And it appears he has a point. State law does require that state employees (it’s funny to hear a university president actually admit that they work for the taxpayers for once) have a chance to review evaluations before they’re made public.

KXNet – Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson

For what it’s worth, all I did was file an open records request. I had learned that the evaluations were done and had been sent to the presidents, and I contacted NDUS spokeswoman Linda Donlin to obtain a copy, and apparently I wasn’t the first one to request them. “I just got these as a result of another request,” she said after a quick response to my request.

Indeed, a couple of hours after I posted the evaluations, the news was all over the rest of the state media. I was first, but I wasn’t the only one on the story.

If there was anything illegal about the disbursement of the evaluations, it wasn’t my doing, though you really have to admire the politically deft way bureaucrats like Fuller deflect criticism. If I had one criticism of Chancellor Shirvani, it’s that he wasn’t nearly as deft at political games as the university presidents he was tasked with supervising.

On a related note, I always have to chuckle when traditional media outlets leave out mention of me or the blog in their reports. As if everyone doesn’t already know who they’re talking about. Not to be conceited, but in North Dakota SAB isn’t “a blog” it is the blog.

Rob Port is the editor of 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.

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  • D

    Getting a little pompous now aren’t you? Any phrase starting with “not to be conceited” just means that you know that what you’re saying is conceited, but you’ve chosen to say it anyway.

    Also, nice non-apology apology. I see a future as an elected official for you!

    • Rob

      I’m not apologizing for anything. I requested records and got them. If they werent distributed legally, that’s not problem.

      And yeah, it is a little conceited, but it is also true.

      • devilschild

        D? I think David reads your blog Rob.

      • $8194357

        But NSA is OK?
        What a world we live in.

      • ndoldman

        Freedom of press ? Unless it is damaging to someone’s lack of character. keep up the good work Rob. with all the crap the higher ed system has gone through Sirvanti was just a the fall guy and he was a good smoke screen during the last legislative session.

    • The Whistler

      Fuller is making false claims and highlighting just how stupid he is. I think Rob should apologize for his part in getting him to do that.

    • $8194357

      So are you the guy who spent all the money on the big rocks and then cried around about coming up a couple million short at the end of the physical year for all your other things on the wish list from the taxpayers?

    • Goon

      Wow! That’s a very catchy name “D”….

  • NDSiouxFan

    Yea, I noticed that too. The information was disclosed on “a blog”. Never mind that I had read it a day earlier on the SAB. Good reporting, Rob!

  • sbark

    So this guy could’ve ignored the review laying right on his desk in all likilhood, ignored it for weeks, and then when someone finally did a random act of journalism—declare it illegal because he had not “reviewed it”?………..schools out for summer, sounds like he just has to prioritize.

    • RobertD

      The SBHE had no clue about what they were discussing today. It was the Board President and Vice President who demanded Shirvani complete the evaluations and make salary and contract recommendations in advance of the meeting today. Then when the president’s screamed they went running for cover. The whole meeting today was a farce, As a state we are screwed when it comes to higher education.

      • ec99

        Perhaps because it hasn’t had anything to do with ed for decades. It’s all about $$$$: money for communities, money for institutions, money for athletics. Students aren’t here to learn, but to pay the bills.

        • $8194357

          The sacred academic cash cow…
          Lenin’s give me the children and I will control the state.

  • mikemc1970

    They’re just mad it was you that got the scoop. Haters gonna hate.

    • $8194357

      Yes it is what liberal elitists do.

  • The Whistler

    Where in that section of the law they quoted does it say that it is illegal to publish an employee evaluation.

    What the law says, despite the newsreaders assertion, is that the letter can’t be place in the employees personnel file until the employee has an opportunity to read the evaluation.

    I think a letter about how stupid this bureaucrat is should be placed in his file, although we might have to find someone to help him out with the hard words.

  • WOOF

    Rob is the Julian Assange of North Dakota.
    Quito or Reykjavik ?

    • Prairiemom3

      Long live whistleblowers who bring sunlight and bleach to the moldy corners of power.

      • Jonesy

        Unless the whistleblowers are exposing NSA spying on Americans. Then it’s treason…… :(

  • Say It

    The university system does not to be accountable to the taxpayers. Reveal something and they squirm. They work and are funded by the taxpayers. They forget who is boss.

  • JoeMN

    Grandiose demigods in ivory towers are not to be questioned….or evaluated.

    • $8194357

      Or so they think.

  • Lianne

    Boy cry baby whining, sniveling, and demanding that the mean spirited critique be removed. He does not want his name associated with Shirvani. He should be ashamed of his sniveling immature behavior.

    • Yukon

      I agree, I lost any respect for the man after watching that video. In the real world, the reason we have evaluations are to bring out the problems and to learn from past mistakes so we don’t continue with them. I think the evaluation was fair.
      What I don’t think is fair is that anything associated with a state or federal employee is accessible to the general public. As a manager, I would have a hard time writing evaluations knowing that anyone could see it. But that is an argument for another day.

      • Rob

        I don’t see what’s wrong with evaluations of public employees being, you know, public.

        They work for the taxpayers. The taxpayers are entitled to know what kind of a job they’re doing.

        People who don’t like that sort of scrutiny should work in the private sector.

  • Guest Observer

    Just saw Fueller on KX News Morning speaking to the board, he looked like he was ready to start crying at one point. He is the definition of a pompous ass!! The State Board of Higher Ed truly lives in an alternate universe!

    • $8194357

      Indoctrinated false enlightened fools that suck at the taxpayer hog trough.

  • mickey_moussaoui

    How could he not have time to review it?


    This is the summer break. Did he receive a negative review?

    go figure

    • The Whistler

      He reads real slow, that’s why he’s in a job where you don’t have to be very bright.

    • devilschild

      The story with the reviews attached to it were in the GFH the morning after Rob posted the story … so what is the big deal here?

      • $8194357

        Rob is a conservative outsider and “critical” of the
        status quo old boy network.

  • LastBestHope

    Always make it about the story…never about you, a humble citizen-journalist.
    (just a friendly tip)

  • abc

    “Under law, when a document is finished and we have a standing request for it, we have to send it out whether we like it or not. We have that legal obligation,” she said.
    How did you manage to have a standing request for documents? Did you have some inside information that these were being done and would be of interest for you to see? Seems kind of strange…

    • Rob

      I didn’t have a standing request. I made a request and the records were sent.

      • abc

        Well the quote said there was a standing request and you claimed to be the first to request them, so someone has their information wrong. Seems odd you’d have a request in that quick without some inside information, I don’t believe it was released anywhere that the reviews were being done (though I could have missed it).

        • Rob

          Actually, I specifically quoted Donlin as saying mine was the second request, and the media reports confirm that forum communications had a request in first.

          And even if I had been first, that’s not a “standing request.” She misspoke.
          But what if it? The evaluations, agree with them or not, are open records whether Fuller has seen them or not.

          • abc

            You are right, I misread the post above and stand corrected. And I’m not debating that it isn’t an open record. I am just wondering how or where you heard from so quickly that they were completed and would be of interest to you. Maybe some people are better at political games than they lead on to be.

          • Rob

            Or maybe I just make a lot of open records requests, and got a tip from a reporter friend?

            Not sure why it matters. They were public record, and of interest to the public.

            Funny that you don’t question Forum’s motivation in getting the records.

          • devilschild

            Rob was a PI before he became a blogger. Gathering information and staying on top of the story is second nature to him. Its in his blood.

  • Rick Olson

    This is a moot point now, in that the board has rejected all of the evaluations that were written by the outgoing Chancellor. It seems that Dr. Shirvani wrote these evaluations purely out of spite and sour grapes; and without any sort of objectivity. However, the evaluations indeed are matters of public record, in that these are not specifically exempt from the North Dakota open records law. The university system had no choice but to release the evaluations when presented with a properly-executed open records request.

  • joe mauer

    Not to be conceited, but in North Dakota SAB isn’t “a blog” it is the blog.
    I think Marilyn Hagerty would dispute that but of course she is too humble.

    • Rob

      Marilyn Haggerty’s chain restaurant reviews are only important to Forum Communications people who really haven’t had much else going other tham that fluke viral review.

      • devilschild

        Forum Communications has never felt bloggers had anything relevant to add to the discussions. There were several intelligent people on the GFH’s site who posted many great comments that brought to light the part of the story the newspaper journalists left out. Instead of giving these bloggers the respect they earned they were treated like a nuisance.

        • ec99

          The elimination of the Herald’s comment board was inevitable. Egomaniacs like Jacobs can’t stand to be told their product is garbage. Now he and Dennis can continue to publish fallacy-ridden op/eds and the “reporters” can print puff pieces, without the inconvenience of being corrected by facts.