Governor Burgum’s Picks for His Higher Ed Task Force Are Deeply Uninspiring


I’ll admit to being excited when Governor Doug Burgum announced a new committee tasked with scrutinizing the governance of North Dakota’s university system.

It will come as no surprise to you readers that I feel our state’s universities have deep-seated problems, and that many of those problems have roots in the way the universities themselves are governed. So when Burgum, whose rhetoric on higher education has seemed reform-minded in the past, announced that he’d be creating this task force I thought it was a big deal. I wrote in a print column that it could be one of the most important things he does in office.

But yesterday Burgum announced the membership of this new task force, and now I’m far less impressed.

You can read the full list below. While Burgum is chairing the committee, the bulk of its membership is the usual suspects from higher education and the Legislature. Many of the same people who have been choking to death meaningful higher education reform for years now.

“The higher ed task force — what a joke,” a long time reporter and political observer said to me yesterday when the committee was announced. “What is the point if you’re just going to pick a bunch of insiders?”

Good question.

When I wrote my print column about the task force last month I found similar skepticism from state political observers. “It’ll be a lot of hot air,” one prominent Republican told me. “They won’t accomplish anything,” a Democratic lawmaker confided.

At the time I thought they were being cynical. Maybe their cynicism was justified.

Here’s Burgum’s press release announcing the committee membership:

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