Dorso Column: Legislature Showers Money On A Dysfunctional University System


The only thing good about the way the legislature dealt with Higher Education was that they passed the constitutional revision. What gives me pause for consideration is, why shower money on a system that is best described as dysfunctional. If your children acted out the way the NDUS people did this legislative session would you increase their allowance?

I have always had the theory that if something doesn’t work you don’t shower money on it until you find a way to fix the problem. Of course the higher education apologists would like you to think there isn’t a problem. On the other hand any reasonable person who watched the debacle unfold in the legislature knows that is just wishful thinking or plain propaganda.

I don’t know that the solution proposed in the revision is the answer to the problem. That being said I hope it passes. The revision will at least give the legislature and the governor an opportunity to try and bring the governance of the system under control. If they can’t affect a solution the citizens can use their lack of management skill as a reason to vote them out of office. As it is the citizenry had no recourse as they watched this last series of events unfold but to hope the legislature would give them the opportunity to weigh in on the problem at the next election.

It took a lot of guts to vote this revision through. I give Majority Leader Carlson high marks for sticking to his guns on this issue for two legislative sessions. The fight is far from over. You can bet that a very educated and vocal minority will put forth a concentrated effort to scare and intimidate the voters. In their corner will be some of the media and a large group of alumni spread across the state. Legislators should be just as vocal in voicing the disgust they felt for the unseemly and raucous way higher education comported themselves this session. What I hope is the citizens have a very long memory of this last session and the way this all came down.

If I have an issue besides the money that was showered on higher education it is that the legislature let the board and chancellor off the hook. The last time around they got a promise about tuition which was broken within months. Just because Dr. Shirvani gave them his word doesn’t mean a thing to me. With the present situation who knows if Dr. Shirvani will even be around to keep his end of the bargain. As far as the board and college presidents, who is foolish enough to think they might not try the same con game again if they dump the present Chancellor?

The continuing problem with higher education is that while the board and administrators give lip service to the well fare of the students they continue to jack the price of a degree to an unacceptable level. As a legislator my main concern was the cost and quality of education the students and parents were paying for. Although there were a few sound bites about that issue the reality is the Senate bulled their way through the House giving higher education a big bonus without any real accountability. The legacy of the higher education round table lives on but I hope this is the last chapter of that failed concept.