When my last week’s column about higher ed was published I didn’t expect the responses it received. As with the responses to my other columns, some of them were good. Really good. Some of those who wrote must be closely involved with higher education as faculty or administrators, or at least serious students of the situation. Some of the good responses though require that I defend my reputation, or at least I want you to know the facts as I was involved.
Some people appear to be only interested in trying to write zingers. Most zingers are not very good and also prove the writers don’t really know the subject. I wonder if those people write for some sense of satisfaction. They must know that what they say just isn’t so as the response is not very good.
That being said, one of the good writers told me I should be careful about saying I was a member of the Board of Higher Education and then listed several of the sins of the fathers (and mothers) of the board. He was right about every one of those issues. I know because it was my responsibility as a board member to know those things that happened during my time on the board, or shortly before. I know of the other instances because I cared. This though is the point I want to make to the writer, none of those things he listed occurred while I was a board member.
The closest I can claim to being part of that list is I was on the board when Robert Potts was hired. In fact, I worked hard to make sure he was the one we hired, and he was an example that the BHE could do the right thing if only they tried.
Here are some things I want to say: Some of those issues were brought before the board. In a story that is much too long to bring before you in this column I was nominated to the board shortly after the Roundtable became the supposed official operating function of the higher education system. I asked where the money was going to come from, the state’s share of the money and also any money lost from tuition waivers and other curious events. You would have been proud of the higher education officials and others in the non answers I didn’t receive. The CIA and NSA would have hired those people on the spot. No other member of the board seemed interested in receiving those specific answers. After all, according to the Roundtable that was the school’s responsibility, or so I was told. It was not something we (appointed and approved members of the board) were to concern ourselves with. In fact, when I did try to make an issue of that very situation I was told through an intermediary that a particular senator was going to try and stop my nomination for a second term.
That senator is still there. I am not. Everything I said would happen did happen, and in the way I said it would happen. Was I so smart? Nope. Didn’t take much to see that would be the result then and now.
One thing each school was supposed to do was grow the schools enrollment. Most schools had some success. Some like Bottineau and as I remember, Wahpeton had problems in the beginning. However, NDSU under Joe Chapman showed others how. I asked Dr. Chapman where the money was going to come from when he created about a 50 percent increase in enrollment in so little time. I will tell you this, Dr. Chapman never lied to the board. He, more than anyone else did the best job of providing a non answer. Of course it was easy as that was just the answer the board wanted to not hear.
There are other things I could write about here, but there just isn’t room. The point I want to request is that you remember that it is our children and our grandchildren’s future we are dealing with here. We owe this to them. Simply stated it would be a sin to fail to not provide them with an opportunity for their future. This is not just some political game everyone is playing. It is your children’s, your grandchildren’s future that we are playing with. We should be ashamed. All of us. All of us.