Accreditation Will Be The Stick Used To Beat Higher Ed Reform To Death


Yesterday the state House voted to concur with the Senate’s amendments to HCR3047 which replaces the state’s current governing structure for higher education – both the chancellor position and the board – with an appointed three-member higher education commission which must operate in accordance with statute set by the legislature.

During the floor debate, Democrat Assistant Minority Leader Corey Mock said this bill is “potentially devastating” to the university system. “We may lose accreditationn of all 11 institutions,” he said.

In Rep. Mock’s speech we get a preview of the stick higher education apologists will use to beat reform to death. Even though the university system costs taxpayers rough a billion dollars per biennium, not to mention the billions more it costs North Dakota’s students and their parents, they don’t want that system held accountable to our elected leaders.

So they claim that this reform will cost the institutions accreditation.

But this should be an easy claim to debunk. Earlier in the legislative session I called the Higher Learning Commission and asked them to comment on claims that the various resolutions to reform governance of the state’s universities would impact their accreditation. At that point the HLC wasn’t willing to comment, but now that there is a specific proposal approved by legislators for a statewide vote the HLC must comment.

We cannot allow this much-needed reform to be choked to death by innuendo.

And, frankly, it’s a little hard to imagine how the HLC would allow Dickinson State University to keep its accreditation despite handing out hundreds of fake diplomas but remove that accreditation if the universities are bound to follow all statute set by our elected leaders.

Operating outside the state’s democratic process is a ridiculous prerequisite for accreditation.