Chancellor Shirvani Blasts Minot State, UND And NDSU President In Evaluations


Chancellor Hamid Shirvani may be on his way out the door, but per his contract buy out agreement he’s still in-office until the middle of July, and he had some choice words for some of the university system’s presidents on the way out the door.

Specifically, he’s requested full evaluations for the leadership of Minot State President David Fuller, UND President Robert Kelley and NDSU President Dean Bresciani. For Kelley, Shirvani recommended a 0% salary increase and only a one-year contract extension. For Fuller, Shirvani also recommended a 0% salary increase (Fuller has already announced his retirement next year). For Bresciani, Shirvani recommended a 3% salary increase but only a one-year contract extension.

North Dakota State College of Sciences President John Richman was also dinged by Shirvani for “grandstanding” over tuition hikes.

Here’s a break down of what Shirvani had to say about the President of each university:

Dean Bresciani – NDSU

Full evaluation here. From Shirvani’s summary:

Based on my observation, you need to articulate a clear vision for the future of NDSU within its current context. As for your suggestion that the award of tenure for presidents and chancellors be done solely by the SBHE and thereby dispensing with the current campus review process is unacceptable to me since it violates the very principle of peer review.

I am recommending the Board to require a full 360 review of your presidency. You have been president long enough to warrant such a review. This review should take place in the fall of 2013. Therefore I am recommending a one year renewal pending 360 review by a legitimate national group and a 3% increase for the coming fiscal year.

Robert Kelley – UND

Full evaluation here. From Shirvani’s summary:

Your silence regarding Pathways except for noting that you will “make it work” is a telltale sign of your lack of support even when your provost and faculty understand well the benefits it will bring to your institution. I don’t particularly understand that attitude unless it is simply because the vision and the concept came from the system office and not from the campus.

I am recommending to the Board a full 360 review of your presidency in the fall of 2013 by an external group. You have been president for five years and it is appropriate for you to go such an evaluation. I am recommending to the Board a one-year contract and a zero (0) percent salary increase for the
coming fiscal year.

David Fuller – Minot State

Full evaluation here. From Shirvani’s summary:

My overall sense is that you have exercised a form of myopic leadership that has probably served you well among certain elements in Minot but reinforced among your peers a growing exasperation due to your sense of exceptionalism for MiSU and your clear lack of respect for your sister institutions.

Moreover, the fact that you were the only one of the presidents to openly question key elements of the Pathways concept that had been carefully explained and agreed upon by the academic and student affairs vice presidents is evidence to me that communication with your senior administrators is sadly lacking. As noted above, your grandstanding comments at the May 9 SBHE meeting noting “no known progress or discussion” on the elements of Pathways were wrong on numerous counts.

As for your assertion that, by taking a position within the system office, Dr. John Girard has thereby relinquished his tenure and retreat rights at MiSU exemplifies both your arrogance as to your presidential entitlements and your ignorance of practices which are common across university systems in the United States. That you would even suggest such an interpretation should be the cause of anger among faculty across the NDUS who might consider applying for future positions in the system office.

Given what I perceive is poor leadership on your part, I am recommending a zero (0) percent salary increase.

John Richman – NDSCS

Full evaluation is here. Shirvani’s summary:

In general, I have been impressed with three aspects of your leadership. First, is that you have built a great team of people (including a key member of my staff); second, the leadership taken by your provost in bringing forth a number of new and important programs; and third, your focus on data analysis. I am told she is excellent.

On the downside, I was frankly taken back by your comment at the May 9 Board meeting when, after receiving a record high budget, you postured before the Board that if unable to set your tuition at the level you intended, you would consider layoffs of your staff. Such posturing was unnecessary and appeared to many observers as highly insensitive. Furthermore, you have rather a large reserve in your budget that you can utilize at anytime.

I am recommending to the Board a 3% salary increase for the coming fiscal year and continuing appointment.

Kelley, Bresciani and Fuller are widely acknowledged in political circles to have been some of the primary drivers behind the effort to be rid of Shirvani. Their negative evaluations could then be seen as sour grapes from Shrivani, and there’s no doubt Shirvani’s political enemies will make that argument regardless, but that might be too superficial a way to look at it.

Does Shirvani dislike these men because of their political machinations, or does he dislike them because he truly feels they’re doing a poor job and have the wrong priorities for the university system?

I’ve argued all along that the arrogant, territorial attitudes are central to what’s wrong with North Dakota’s university system, and I think Kelley, Fuller and Bresciani best personify that problem.

In a tongue-in-cheek “job description” for the Chancellor who will replace Shirvani, columnist Lloyd Omdahl suggests that he or she will have to “Unify the 11 state institutions into one integrated system that best serves the students while fighting off the state Legislature, school presidents, the central Bismarck staff, alumni organizations, the Board of Higher Education and the state citizenry, all of whom are entitled to the final say on all decisions.”

The “fighting off…school presidents” remark is spot on. Shirvani may be headed out the door, but problems in the person of people like Fuller, Bresciani and Kelley remain.

The rest of the evaluations conducted by Chancellor Shirvani were largely positive and congratulatory, with raises being recommended across the board (except where contracts had already been recently negotiated). Lake Region State College President David Darling’s evaluation is here. Williston State President Ray Nadolny’s evaluation is here. Valley City State President Steve Shirley’s evaluation is here. Mayville State University President Gary Hagen’s evaluation is here. Bismarck State College President Larry Skogen’s evaluation is here. Dickinson State University President DC Coston’s evaluation is here.