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Published September 28 2013

Forum editorial: Good call for higher ed interim

Larry Skogen, president of Bismarck State College, is the right choice for interim chancellor of the North Dakota University System. The state Board of Higher Education confirmed Skogen over former Commerce Commissioner Shane Goettle in a dual vote that went from 5-3 to unanimous.

Both men brought impressive credentials to their candidacies, but Skogen’s depth in higher education management is a better fit for the system. Goettle, a card-carrying member of the state’s dominant political class, certainly could have done the job. But he has no significant experience in higher education management. Moreover, he’s made no secret of his political ambitions; that aspect of his pedigree could have affected his effectiveness.

Skogen’s record at BSC is excellent. Under his direction, the two-year school emerged as one of the system’s gems. He enhanced its focus as an institution committed to educating students to either move into the world of work or transfer to a four-year campus. Skogen has been both a statewide education leader and an advocate for his school.

More to his qualifications for the interim job: Skogen is a veteran of the system turmoil brought about by the unfortunate tenure of Chancellor Hamid Shirvani, who was fired. Skogen is aware of the rifts, alliances, intrigues and political shenanigans associated with the former chancellor’s short time on the job. That knowledge is crucial to the dicey process of returning the system and its many parts to a focus on education; and, as important, fixing the damage Shirvani caused on the campuses and among legislators. As acting chancellor for the past few months, he’s been getting those chores done.

Qualified by education, experience and temperament, Skogen understands the weight of the task at hand. The transition to interim (to serve through June 2015) should be seamless. He appears to have full support from the higher ed board, and, we suspect, campus presidents who are eager to work with a chancellor who understands and respects the work they do.

All things considered, the board made the right choice – an inspired choice – to guide the university system through what is expected to be a difficult transition through uncertain times.


Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.