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William Goetz, Published March 05 2012

Letter: Higher ed seeks advocate

The State Board of Higher Education sets policy for the North Dakota University System and governs North Dakota’s 11 publicly supported colleges and universities. The board also oversees the North Dakota State University extension service and agricultural research stations, Northern Crops Institute, State Forest Service and Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute.

The board has seven citizen members appointed to four-year terms by the governor and confirmed by the North Dakota Senate. A student is also appointed to a one-year term. The board includes non-voting member representation from a system faculty member and staff member.

The people of North Dakota created the board through the state constitution, which provides the board with broad powers and also specifies the board retains powers it does not delegate to campuses.

On June 30, Fargo board member Mike Haugen’s term will expire. Applications for his replacement are being received until March 21, and a review will be conducted by a nominating committee composed of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Senate President Pro Tem, House Speaker and a representative from the North Dakota Education Association. Three names will be forwarded by April 2 to the governor for final selection. Senate confirmation will follow at the next legislative session.

It is essential to look at geographical considerations in this appointment as the board now has two members from Grand Forks, three from Fargo (including the student member), one from Wahpeton, one from Minot and one from Bismarck.

Membership on the board is demanding – and there are numerous constituencies one must answer to and serve. The business of higher education is determined by the state constitution, state law and board policy.

Education is a critical component to the state and nation and the chief determining factor in America’s future. There is complexity in helping to lead and direct the state’s 11 campuses as well as academic programs, research, the arts, athletics, workforce training and other student-focused areas. All have rightful expectations of first-time students, parents, re-entry students (such as veterans) and the taxpayers of the state.

Board members are providing a public service that requires commitment, vision, responsiveness and sensitivity. It is not a position to be used for politics or partisanship. The most effective members are those focused upon doing what is right for an ever-evolving higher education system and addressing the needs of those who pursue advanced education.

It is critical that this selection process results in an individual being added to the board who can serve with a focus of further advancing the quality of higher education in North Dakota. Applications can be found online at: www.dpi.state.nd.us/forms/sfn53472.pdf

Goetz is chancellor, N.D. University System.