Why Didn’t The Full State Board Of Higher Education Officially Back Shirvani?

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Over the weekend the North Dakota Student Association, claiming to represent the state’s 48,000 or so college students but really representing a vocal faction that is little more than a rubber stamp for the university presidents, cast a vote of no confidence for embattled Chancellor Hamid Shirvani.

In response, members of the State Board of Higher Education sent out a response expressing their disappointment in the students.

But here’s something interesting to note: The statement in question didn’t come from the full State Board of Higher Education. It came from current President Duaine Espegard, current Vice President Kirsten Diederich and past President Grant Shaft.

Here’s the statement that was emailed out:

For Immediate Release

As the current president, vice president and immediate past president of the State Board of Higher Education, we are disappointed in the recent resolutions of the North Dakota Student Association. The Board remains in full support of the policies adopted by the Board and implemented by Chancellor Shirvani. The Board hired Chancellor Shirvani to assist the Board in implementing reforms to the University System with the intent of elevating the quality of the overall system while focusing on greater accountability and efficiencies. Chancellor Shirvani has worked tirelessly to engage all of our constituencies with a passion that has been absent for some time. In a very short period of time, Chancellor Shirvani’s leadership and knowledge have aided the Board in addressing problems that have plagued the Board for many years. In carrying out our overall policies, directions, and agenda he has worked arduously and with dedication to make North Dakota’s colleges and universities into a student-centered and mission-driven system.

Duaine Espegard, Kirsten Diederich, Grant Shaft

The statement says the board is in full support of Shirvani, but you’ll note that not all members of the board signed on to this expression of dismay. It might make sense that the faculty and student representatives on the board didn’t sign the letter, but seeing just three members of the board (even if they’re leadership) sign a letter backing Chancellor Shirvani is…telling.

There is dissension in the ranks, I think.

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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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