Dale Wetzel, Associated Press, Published April 17 2012
UPDATED: Lembke cites stress, workload as he resigns from North Dakota higher ed boardBISMARCK — A member of North Dakota's Board of Higher Education said Tuesday he had resigned because he had become weary of what he called a stressful, full-time job.
“It got totally time-consuming,” Claus Lembke said. “My life became higher ed. Personally, with friends, it was always higher ed. You go into the business arena or coffee, always higher ed ... It just got to be so big, and too much.”
Lembke, a Bismarck resident and lobbyist for the North Dakota Association of Realtors, said he resigned Friday. He was appointed to the board by former Gov. John Hoeven in 2009, and his four-year term was to end in July 2013.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple must choose someone to serve out Lembke's term on the board, which has eight voting members. It oversees North Dakota's university system, which has 11 colleges, almost 49,000 students and a two-year budget of more than $1 billion.
Seven board members are normally eligible for two four-year terms. The eighth represents college students and serves for one year.
Lembke's departure comes in the wake of another board member's decision to leave in July. Michael Haugen, of Fargo, did not request an appointment to a second four-year term.
A previous board president, Minot attorney Jon Backes, left the board in 2010 after four years, citing the position's time demands.
The board's current president, Grant Shaft, who is an attorney in Grand Forks, said Tuesday that board service has been “absolutely” a full-time job, “no question about it.”
He hopes that demands will ease when the university system's new chancellor, Hamid Shirvani, begins work July 1, Shaft said. Shaft and the board's vice president, Duaine Espegard, said they believe Shirvani will help the board settle into a policymaking role and avoid day-to-day administrative questions.
Shaft said specific issues have taken up board members’ time, including the lingering fight over the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname, bogus degrees awarded to Chinese students at Dickinson State University and the process of hiring a new chancellor.
“As you move up to board leadership, it gets increasingly more and more demanding,” Shaft said. “If you're president, it's almost impossible, if you're also holding down another job ... I do think the role of the board has to be redefined.”
Lembke said had been suffering from some stress-related health problems before his decision, and they immediately vanished. He also said he had been motivated to quit by what he described as constant public criticism of the board and university system.
“With all the good the system has done, it just was very difficult for me to continue,” he said.
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