Video: ND Senate Rejects Amendment To Buy Out Chancellor Shirvani


Despite backing from several university presidents, despite a vote of no confidence from organizations representing the state’s college students, Senator Tony Grindberg much-debated amendment to the university system budget to buy out Chancellor Hamid Shirvani’s contract and send him packing failed on a 23-24 vote.

The buy out would have cost taxpayers $854,520.

Here’s the video:

The amendment stopped short of ordering the State Board of Higher Education to fire Shirvani. Grindberg’s amendment, if adopted, would have merely provided the funds for his departure. Given that the SBHE’s leadership (if not the full board) is backing Shirvani, the appropriation would have been symbolic at best. The bill “doesn’t say they have to fire him or don’t have to fire him,” said Senator Anderson on the floor pointing out that if the board doesn’t use the funds they get put back into the general fund.

But half of the state Senate’s members voting for the buy out sends a pretty strong message too.

What carried the day seemed to be Senator Holmberg’s argument that the legislature doesn’t get to pick and choose who the chancellor is. That’s a fair point, but as I wrote earlier today I’m not sure it matters who the chancellor is. Anyone on the SBHE, or in the chancellor’s position, who attempts to govern the university system in a manner that isn’t deferential to the university presidents is going to be undermined.

We aren’t going to fix what ails the university system – and to be clear, the university system has a lot of problems – until we change the way the university system is governed.

In related news, there is a constitutional amendment just introduced (HCR3042) which will do that. Stay tuned.

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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  • Lianne

    I have to question Kresbach’s comments about all 48,000+ students seriously having reviewed all pros and cons, voted in great faith, and with diligence. I know for a fact that very few students are more worried about some argument over the chancellor than they are about getting through class, graduating and getting a job.

    so the Presidents don’t like not having to answer to someone, too bad. They can start their own business in the world outside education and then only answer to all the government regulations! It is difficult to give up free rein, but they seem to have abused their power. If they can’t be trusted with the power given them, they need to have that power controlled by others.

    • Simon

      College students are mostly concerned with satisfying their base desires, such as their next beer and fast food overindulgence, as well as their erotic fantasies. As far as the performance of the chancellor, they know what their school administration tells them and they don’t bother to investigate further.

      • Lianne

        I do hope you are only joking. if not, then Rob is right. We don’t need more than three publin institutions of HIGHER education in this state. I, along with many other tax payers know that learning how to get the next beer, fast food, drugs or satify their erotic fantasies does not fall under HIGHER ed, unless it it all done under the influence of drugs!

        • Simon

          Oh, they want to graduate and get a good job, but try to remember what it was like to be 18-22 years old. Hormones are raging. This is the first taste of independence from the parents. It’s a recipe for parties and sex and more parties and sex. Being hung over in class is a joke. The hangover is gone by noon and they’re ready to do it all over again.

          Are all college students that way? No. Some are really there for the education. Some work to help pay for school. Good for them. But even those thoughtful students don’t have much of a grasp on real world issues and rely on their professors and administrators to give them proper guidance. If you took a poll of the students and asked them exactly what offenses Chancellor Shirvani has committed, most of them wouldn’t be able to formulate a cogent thought on the matter.

          • Lianne

            Okay, you restored my faith in the youth just a bit. I do remember way back waht it was like working and paying for my college education. I didn’t waste my time or my money. When I returned 20 years later, I was shocked to see drinks(coffee and soda with whatever added) were allowed in the classrooms.

  • WOOF

    Upon hearing of the $854,520. buyout students gave passing thought
    to majoring in academic administration.
    Then they went back to thinking of how to score sex, drugs and alcohol.

    Chancellor Hamid Shirvani tearfully canceled Samba lessons,
    his first class ticket to Rio De Janeiro, and cursed North Dakota winter.

  • ND Observer

    In today’s Forum editorial, the comment was made ” Are Espegard’s 100 percenters oblivious to the obvious? Not likely.” They do seem oblivious to the problems and controversies. The board is clearly not 100% behind the chancellor since the student voting member wants to fire the Chancellor per student presentation and overwhelming student vote of no confidence.” When your customers have no confidence (students), and your major stakeholders (legislators) have little to no confidence in your leadership, then it is time for him to go and start fresh again. A 23-24 vote to give funds to fire someone is a strong message even if not successful.

    Last year the college students were all for the Chancellor, but now are overwhelmingly against him. What changed? The Chancellor has many good ideas, but does not have the leadership, trust, confidence and ability to do his job. He lost his ability to lead, fairly or unfairly. It is best to fire quickly before problems escalate. Hire slowly and fire quickly is a true maxim.