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Board Calls for Review of Shirvani's Performance - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Board Calls for Review of Shirvani's Performance

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After much debate Thursday morning, State Board of Higher Education members voted to have a performance review of Chancellor Hamid Shirvani.

The meeting in Grand Forks began with some controversy. Board Member Kari Reichert wanted to amend the meeting agenda to include the item: "Executive Management Concerns."

North Dakota University System lawyer Claire Holloway had some concerns about amending the agenda. "If a public agency such as the board decides before a meeting they want to talk about a topic but do not put it on the agenda, you cannot bring it up during the meeting. That is considered hiding the agenda item," said Holloway.

Reichert said she requested items be added to the agenda twice, but she says her requests were not added. Reichert said, "I'm at a loss. Are you telling me the System office and President control what we talk about?"

The motion was approved to add the management concerns item to the agenda.

"The controversy has only gotten bigger over time...I think we have to acknowledge we have a problem," Reichert said as debate began.

She added, "I think what we're really talking about is not whether we like or dislike someone, it's whether they have the right skills."

Reichert said if the board does not fix the problems, they are only going to get worse.

Concerns with the turnover rate in the North Dakota University System were also raised. Board Member Janice Hoffarth discussed a report that was given to state lawmakers during the legislative session showing 32 people were listed as University System staff. She pointed to 12 of those leaving in the past year.

"I don't see that as positive. You have 30 percent turnover in any business or university, and that's a problem," said Hoffarth.

Reichert said it is a sign of mismanagement.

Chancellor Shirvani countered saying, "This happens all the time. We have a small office overseeing an entire system." He pointed towards needing a larger staff, as did a couple other board members.

Board Member Kathleen Neset said this happens when there is new leadership. She said, "We are talking business. In business when you have a change of command, you generally have turnover. I am not concerned about this."

Board President Duane Espegard backed Neset's comments and added, "I don't look at those to be everybody running ship because everything has gone wrong." He spoke of many members of the University System leaving for better opportunities, some with higher pay and warmer climates.

Espegard said you cannot take the turnover numbers at face value. He said you need to dig further into them to see why there is such a high number of people leaving. "I look at that as [Neset] has said," Appeared explained. "A couple of them are natural when new administration comes on board. The rest of them are, I think, leaving for opportunities."

Espegard didn't see it as a problem…but former board member Robert Vallie disagreed, insisting that "[the board] needs to acknowledge the mistakes and problems that may or may not have been made, and that they want to understand how they can fix it, work with campuses... build that trust back that legislators have shown they have concerns with."

In the end the motion was made and approved to order a performance evaluation for the Chancellor. It is to be completed by the end of June. The guidelines for the review will be determined at a later date.

 

Why wasn't there more of a push to remove Shirvani today? Valley News Team's Brandon Clark said that said after talking with some of the board members, he learned they had found a way to not have to make a choice today.

Also on the agenda today, the board also voted on tuition increases and approved an option that puts a cap on colleges and universities -- for instance, UND can raise tuition up to 4.9 percent, a $289 increase per student.

 

Reporter Brandon Clark has been covering the meeting all day. He will continue to bring us updates as they arise.

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