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Published April 03, 2013, 03:58 PM

Shirvani complaints reach college accrediting agency

Former Valley City State University president Ellen Chaffee is requesting an investigation and possible sanctions by a higher education accreditation body over what she said are her “grave” concerns over the direction of North Dakota’s State Board of Higher Education and Chancellor Hamid Shirvani.

By: Ryan Johnson, WDAZ News Service

CHICAGO – Former Valley City State University president Ellen Chaffee is requesting an investigation and possible sanctions by a higher education accreditation body over what she said are her “grave” concerns over the direction of North Dakota’s State Board of Higher Education and Chancellor Hamid Shirvani.

She sent a 48-page complaint Wednesday to Sylvia Manning, president of the Higher Learning Commission, that accredits each of North Dakota’s 11 public campuses. The document doesn’t raise new allegations, but Chaffee said it collected various allegations and details to show the “deteriorating” governance of the North Dakota University System since Shirvani took office July 1.

“He is not responding in ways that are constructive and in ways that North Dakotans can appreciate and in ways that can help achieve the best results for the state,” she said in an interview.

Chaffee said the Higher Learning Commission could respond to her letter by simply stating they would check up on the campuses during the next scheduled site visit. But she said she believes it’s more likely the commission would send representatives to North Dakota to interview several people involved and come out with a report, which could include sanctions.

University System spokeswoman Linda Donlin said in a written statement that negative statements in Chaffee’s complaint “appear to be based on rumors and misinformation.”

The complaint includes several allegations that have come up in the recent past, including allegations of possible open meeting violations and a rumor that Shirvani plans to fire five campus presidents, a rumor that has been denied by NDUS officials several times since January.

“Nevertheless, we have every intention to respond to the Higher Learning Commission if and when it chooses to follow up on any portion of Dr. Chaffee’s complaint,” Donlin wrote.

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