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TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published September 25 2013

Skogen named interim ND chancellor

BISMARCK – The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education unanimously confirmed Larry Skogen as the interim chancellor of the North Dakota University System.

Skogen, who has been serving as the acting chancellor since June and president of Bismarck State College since 2006, will take over the full-time position no later than Nov. 1 and serve through June 2015.

Skogen said he didn’t lose any sleep over the vote.

“I have the best job in North Dakota. I wasn’t a bit worried,” he said about his presidency. “I thought the board would make the best decision for the University System.”

The state board made its selection during its monthly meeting Wednesday. The board voted 5-3 for Skogen over Shane Goettle, a former state commerce commissioner, before unanimously confirming Skogen’s appointment.

Skogen will receive $291,000 a year plus benefits, a jump from his current $184,000 salary plus benefits as Bismarck State president.

As part of his contract, Skogen will not be able to apply for the permanent chancellor position in 2015, but will be able to resume his presidency.

Skogen will have to recommend to the state board an interim president at Bismarck State by Nov. 1. He said he will have a campuswide discussion over the next month to see who should fill the role.

Skogen said he will no longer feel like a pingpong ball jumping from the University System office and Bismarck State, and is looking forward to finishing organizing the system office in the short term.

Board President Kirsten Diederich said she voted for Skogen because “he is ready to go,” and will be able to handle an upcoming visit by the Higher Learning Commission, which will evaluate the University System and state board.

“I believe the Higher Learning Commission is asking the board about our autonomy,” she told the board. “For us to be autonomous and consider educational aspects of this interim position, we do have to hit the ground running.”

Board Vice President Terry Hjelmstad said Skogen has done everything the board has asked him to do.

“I am very confident the people and staff are very impressed with what he has done so far,” he said.

Board members Duaine Espegard, Kathleen Neset and Grant Shaft voted for Goettle.

Shaft highlighted his concerns about putting a current college president in the role.

“I find there is a slight conflict in taking our chancellor from one of our sitting presidents,” he said, also highlighting the requirements of the state board and chancellor under the state constitution to act as chief executive officer of the University System.

“I don’t necessarily think being institutional president within our system lends itself to being the best CEO for the board,” Shaft said.

Espegard said the University System would benefit from having both candidates working for it.

“We need both of these men. Bismarck State has many things happening, they need a strong president,” Espegard said about keeping Skogen on as president. “Having worked with Goettle for many years when he ran the commerce department, his working relationships were very good with all the colleges.”

Skogen is a native of Hettinger. He came to Bismarck State from New Mexico Military Institute. Prior to that, Skogen served in various capacities in the U.S. Air Force. Skogen holds degrees from Dickinson State University, Central Missouri State University and Arizona State University.