North Dakota’s university system is in crisis. It has been rocked by scandal, and it is being managed by people more prone to deception and arrogance than sound, ethical leadership. Reform of the way the university system is governed is badly needed. A new chancellor will not fix what ails the university system.
But setting that all aside for a moment, this evening the State Board of Higher Education picked a new chancellor to replace Bill Goetz, who had announced his retirement last year. The new candidate is Hamid Shirvani.
I know about as much about this gentleman, who is coming to North Dakota from Cal State University, but the 2009 Chronicle of Higher Education article below apparently written by him is promising.
Colleges and universities should focus more on degree completion, not just on how many students enroll. That doesnot mean “teaching to the test,” but rather paying more attention to student success and seeking more and betterways that faculty members can support and guide students inside and outside the classroom.
That is a radical notion for the North Dakota university system – and indeed the higher ed industry as a whole – which has adopted an assembly line mentality that values bloated enrollment (event to the point of paying recruiters and using outright fraud to hustle students through their doors) over quality education.
Again, Mr. Shirvani cannot fix what’s wrong with higher education in North Dakota. We need reform. The independence, “fourth branch of government” status of higher education must be ended because it is the root cause our the university system’s problems. But this pick by the Board of Higher Education may indicate that even those blinkered bureaucrats are coming to realize that there is, actually, a problem.
Update: Of course, there’s also this from Mr. Shirvani’s Wikipedia page:
In April 2010, California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced an investigation to accusations that the university officials including Hamid Shirvani violated public records laws when they refused to reveal the financial details of a contract with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to speak at a university fundraiser, and allegedly shredded documents related to the agreement.
The contract was reportedly found in a recycling bin along with other CSU documents. These were found by two unnamed CSUS students after a tip they received stating that there was documents being shredded at the CSU on a Furlough Day. In August 2010, the Attorney General concluded his investigation and found that there was no misappropriation of funds by the Foundation and no violation of law. 
In November 2009 the General Faculty of CSU Stanislaus voted for a measure of No Confidence in CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani. The motivation for the vote according to the Academic Senate was “Shirvani’s abandonment of the shared governance process, the deteriorating working relationship between Shirvani and faculty, and Shirvani’s seeming lack of understanding of the mission of the CSU system.” 
Violating open records laws? He’ll fit right in with the rest of the states higher education bureaucrats.