Lunatics Running The Asylum: SBHE Buys Out Shirvani


Chancellor Hamid Shirvani will be leaving North Dakota’s university system after offering an ultimatum to the SBHE today: Either give him the backing he needs to govern the university system or buy out his contract.

The board, which was probably headed toward canning Shirvani anyway, chose to buy him out. Shirvani is the second university system chancellor to be ousted after push back from the university presidents in less than a decade.

Here’s the official release.

What this leaves, aside from a big bill for Shirvani’s contract with the taxpayers, are all the chronic problems in the university system without any clear leadership or path forward for fixing them.

I wrote in a letter to the Grand Forks Herald recently that North Dakota’s problems with higher education go far beyond Hamid Shirvani. From abysmal graduation rates to run-away tuition and spending to mediocre academic outcomes, North Dakota is out on a serious limb when it comes to the state’s universities.

America as a whole as higher ed bubble problem, and that problem may not be more acute anywhere than North Dakota which, of late, has been leading the nation in growth in higher ed spending.

But instead of confronting these problems, the “leaders” in higher education would rather give a group of university president a sort of heckler’s veto over how they’re governed.

This is a sad day for the state’s students and taxpayers, but a very good day for the proponents of the costly, poor-performing status quo at the universities.

On a related note, who takes Shirvani’s place? State Senator Tim Flakoll, a politician allowed to double-dip on NDSU’s dime and take 42 days of vacation from a supposedly part-time university job during the 2011 session, was passed over when Shirvani was hired. The cynical bet has the job going to him, though some in the anti-Shirvani faction of state government have assured me that the goal wasn’t to put Flakoll in.

But given how Shirvani was dragged through the mud – again, the second NDUS chancellor pushed out in less than a decade – why would anyone who doesn’t have the blessing of the university presidents take the job?