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Duaine Espegard, Published March 12 2013

Letter: Drama generates media stories, but does not help ND higher ed

Over the course of the past few weeks, we have seen some legislators and students take dramatic action in an effort to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the chancellor and/or policies adopted by the State Board of Higher Education. These actions have certainly succeeded in creating public stir and stories for the media. However, the extent to which they have furthered higher education in North Dakota is less clear.

We believe that Chancellor Hamid Shirvani is a man of vision and is working hard to tackle the many issues that have challenged us over the years. In carrying out the board’s agenda, he has earned and fully deserves our gratitude and continued support.

As a board, our mission is “to enhance the quality of life for all those we serve and the economic and social vitality of North Dakota through the discovery, sharing, and application of knowledge.” Students are our constituents and not our adversaries as we seek to advance that mission.

For us to understand one another, however, it is essential that we have ongoing dialogue as we determine the most effective path to a first-rate system of higher education. Unfortunately, the concerns that have been raised recently have not been raised with the board directly or specifically, but instead have been voiced through dramatic and generalized criticisms.

The board must know the concerns of its constituent groups. Indeed, their feedback is essential as we formulate the best policies to advance the mission of the university system. It is our desire that this feedback be constructive, and the communications among groups productive as the board works to achieve our common goals.

The board and the chancellor are all dedicated to ensuring that North Dakota’s university system is student centered and mission driven. While we may not all agree with the students’ or some legislators’ actions, we acknowledge their interest in ensuring that we create the best university system possible.


Espegard, Grand Forks, is president, North Dakota State Board of Higher Education.