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Ham Shirvani, Published March 23 2013

Letter: Hawken short on facts

In her March 16 column in The Forum, Rep. Kathy Hawken, R-Fargo, criticized recent events in higher education as well as the state Board of Higher Education, board members, and the work of the university system’s legal counsel, and, primarily, she criticized me.

Accusations similar to those raised by Rep. Hawken were made at a recent meeting of the board. These accusations have circulated for some time and were finally presented on the record directly to the board for review, resulting in investigation and a thorough 200-plus- page report that addressed each one. One conclusion of the university system’s legal counsel is that many of the allegations could be put to rest by a simple review of the facts.

After reading Hawken’s column, I was reminded of the old but prescient adage, “My mind is made up, don’t bother me with the facts.”

I would encourage Hawken and others who share her concerns to consider the findings of the report.

I was hired to bring together a unified university system for the state of North Dakota. Much has been said or written about me since I began work in North Dakota, some of it untrue and much of it exaggerated. I continue to weather the politics and attacks on my reputation in the sincere desire that we may return our discourse to the work at hand.

I am passionate about higher education; it has been my life’s work. Hawken states she is an advocate of education. I am happy to hear we share this common ground. I look forward to working with her and others as we look for ways to improve our state’s public higher education system.

Shirvani is chancellor, North Dakota University System.