For the uninitiated, if that measure passes it would amend the state constitution to remove the existing part-time State Board of Higher Education and replace it with a full-time, three-member higher education commission.
Higher education officials in the state are in full-on spin mode trying to defeat this thing, arguing that it puts accreditation at risk. Senator Hoge addressed those concerns, and put the entire debate into a nutshell.
“Should we just muddle along with the status quo and just accept things as they are?” asked Senator Hogue. “Or should we try to make some positive change? Collectively as a Legislature we decided that the best policy is to try and make some change rather than to continue with the status quo.”
He continued: “Now the leaders of Higher Education are obviously opposed to this change, but they all want to talk about the risks of making change. The Legislature, I think collectively, wants to talk about the risks of doing nothing.”
What’s ironic is that the “risks” higher education bureaucrats want to talk about with Measure 3 aren’t really risks at all.
On Wednesday Chancellor Larry Skogen sent out the email below to campus personnel touting the supposed risks of Measure 3, but take a look at the part I’ve highlighted.
Basically, what Skogen is admitting is that nothing in Measure 3 violates accreditation standards, and the only “risk” is how Measure 3 might be implemented. So, basically, as long as we implement it in such a way the HLC is kosher with, we’re in the clear.
The university system could begin that implementation after election day in November, and they’d have until February to complete it, working with the HLC along the way.
So despite fear mongering from the higher education sector, there really is no risk to this at all.
From: NDUS Chancellor Larry C. Skogen <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2014 10:32 AM
Subject: NEWS RELEASE: HLC says Measure 3 raises “significant challenges” to continuation of accreditation
A message from NDUS SYSTEM OFFICE
HLC says Measure 3 raises “significant challenges” to continuation of accreditation
In a letter sent yesterday to North Dakota University System Interim Chancellor Larry C. Skogen, the president of the Higher Learning Commission shared its team’s analysis of the potential impact of the passage of Measure 3 on accreditation of the 11 institutions of higher education that are part of NDUS.
Measure 3 is a proposal on the November 4 ballot to replace the current citizen-led, eight-member State Board of Higher Education with a three-member paid commission, restructuring the existing governance of NDUS.
The letter emphasized that a change in governing structure, such as that proposed in Measure 3, requires a number of procedural steps prior to implementation, including a Commission Fact-Finding Visit to each of the 11 institutions. Approval of the new structure must occur “prior to implementing the new governance structure.” Barbara Gellman-Danley, HLC president, said that the application deadline is early February 2015 and the proposed implementation date of July 1 provides little time to develop new governance arrangements.
“Approval is by no means guaranteed,” she said. “Even if the Board approves the continuation of accreditation the Board may do so subject to a period of Commission monitoring or even sanction for one to two years of all eleven institutions until the institutions demonstrate the effectiveness of the new governance arrangements. It is very important that you and the public institutions in the NDUS understand the enormity of what is being proposed in this Constitutional amendment.”
In the accompanying summary, the team said it did not identify any provision of Measure 3 that “on its face” violates current HLC accreditation standards or assumed practices, but it is concerned that there are many details related to implementation that could threaten the system’s accreditation. The team said its opinion is that Measure 3 poses “significant risks to the functioning of North Dakota’s system of higher education as a whole and to future reaffirmation of accreditation for its individual institutions.” It also stated that “it challenges the imagination to envision how the proposed commission structure will provide commission members the autonomy to lead NDUS institutions with the welfare of each institution’s students, faculty, staff, and the communities that each serve, as the foremost consideration in the judgments that they would be called upon to make.”
The letter and the team’s report may be found here: http://ndus.edu/uploads/resources/5095/hlc-observations-on-measure-3.pdf.
For More Information Contact:
Linda Donlin, Director of Communications and Media Relations
North Dakota University System