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Lawmakers Say Cost of Shirvani's Buyout Won't Affect Students - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Lawmakers Say Cost of Shirvani's Buyout Won't Affect Students

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As part of the North Dakota Board of Higher Education's buyout of the chancellor's contract, Hamid Shirvani will receive his full salary of about $350,000 for two more years, plus two raises, health care and retirement contributions.

The total amount of the buyout adds up to more than $800,000.

Valley News Team's Hope Hanselman went looking for answers as to what impact that money has on the education system.

"I feel like I can't get out of here fast enough to be able to pay it off," Austen Dahmes, a fourth-year NDSU student, said as he crams in summer classes he can barely afford. "Right now, I'm at about 50 or 60 thousand dollars in debt."

In the five years it will take him to earn a degree in industrial engineering, his debt might amount to a career. But in one day, the state Board of Higher Education decided to shell out nearly a million to pull his chancellor out of office.

"I look at where money is being spent on campus and I feel like my money isn't going towards my education," Dahmes said.

Take a look around the North Dakota State University campus and students, like Austen, will tell you where they think money should be spent. But, lawmakers say the chancellor's buyout, though expensive, will help North Dakota's universities become a better environment.

"Yesterday's actions by the state board clearly indicate that they had the resources to do that," Tony Grindberg, North Dakota State Senator Dist. 41, said. Grindberg urged fellow lawmakers to spend the money.

"In the big scheme of the multi-million dollar budgets that we have in this state for support of students in their education quest, with their choice of NDSU or the University of North Dakota, I think at the end of the day students aren't going to see an impact."

Austen agreed, the value of his future could be worth the cost of his education.

"We don't need to be spending that much money, that $800,000, but at the same time, we need somebody who is actually moving our school forward instead of backward," Austen said.

The board could have voted to fire Shirvani, without paying a penny.

Senator Tony Grindberg says, while it is taxpayer money, those funds were set aside in the budget; and students should not see any less money spent on them.

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