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Published February 25, 2013, 11:55 AM

N.D. Higher Ed Board Officers Defend Shirvani

Top officers of the State Board of Higher Education have rallied to the defense of embattled North Dakota University System Chancellor Hamid Shirvani, criticizing the North Dakota Student Association’s “no confidence” vote.

By: Chuck Haga, Grand Forks Herald

Top officers of the State Board of Higher Education have rallied to the defense of embattled North Dakota University System Chancellor Hamid Shirvani, criticizing the North Dakota Student Association’s “no confidence” vote.

“We are disappointed in the recent resolutions” adopted Saturday by the student group, the board leaders said in a statement signed by President Duaine Espegard, Vice President Kirsten Diederich and Grant Shaft, the immediate past president.

“The board remains in full support of the policies adopted by the board and implemented by Chancellor Shirvani,” according to the statement, issued by email on Sunday.

The student association, representing more than 48,000 public university students, voted overwhelmingly Saturday to declare that Shirvani had “created a culture of mistrust and disconnect” and should go. Delegates to the meeting in Bismarck from 10 of the state’s 11 colleges and universities also voted to support a buyout of Shirvani’s contract as proposed earlier by a member of the Legislature.

Representatives of Dickinson State University’s student association abstained.

Shirvani was hired “to assist the board in implementing reforms to the university system with the intent of elevating the quality of the overall system while focusing on greater accountability and efficiencies,” according to the statement.

“Chancellor Shirvani has worked tirelessly to engage all of our constituencies with a passion that has been absent for some time,” the board leaders said. “In a very short period of time, Chancellor Shirvani’s leadership and knowledge have aided the board in addressing problems that have plagued the board for many years.

“In carrying out our overall policies, directions and agenda, he has worked arduously and with dedication to make North Dakota’s colleges and universities into a student-centered and mission-driven system.”

North Dakota State University’s student government adopted its own “no confidence” resolution Sunday night, and UND’s Student Senate considered a similar resolution before deciding to delay action for a week so senators could talk with more students and research the issue.

Prior to Saturday’s action by the state student association, student governments at Minot State University and North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton had adopted resolutions expressing no confidence in Shirvani’s leadership.

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