Should The Legislature Spike A Few More Higher Ed Board Appointments?


Last week State Board of Higher Education President Kirsten Diederich resigned rather than face a tough hearing before state Senators less than pleased with the university system’s performance. Diederich had been appointed to another term on the board by Dalrymple and needed it confirmed by the Senate.

Today comes this headline in theĀ Grand Forks Herald which claims that the State Board of Higher Education won’t do performance reviews of its university presidents unless the process and materials used in those reviews are blocked from the public.

Higher ed board members say they won't conduct 360 review of N D. university presidents until records closed - Grand Forks H (1)

It is remarkable to me that the SBHE would put forward this position, given that much of the criticism of that board stems from their unwillingness to govern the state’s arrogant university presidents.

Of course, I’m not sure how accurate this headline is any more. The only board member quoted in the article supporting this reticence on reviews is Diederich, and she’s been sent packing. Perhaps the rest of the board, if they continue to share this position, ought to be made aware that this is an inappropriate time to be issuing ultimatums to the legislature.

There are three more appointments to the SBHE which must be confirmed by the legislature this session (four if we count Diederich’s eventual replacement). Every one of them ought to be asked if they’re willing to hold our university presidents accountable in the light of public scrutiny.

If they balk, their nominations ought to be spiked as well.

The role of the State Board of Higher Education is to govern the universities. Not act as simpering toadies to the university presidents.