Nick Creamer: North Dakota Students Should Support Measure 3

Matt Perdue, a critic of the proposed changes to North Dakota’s higher education system, submitted a letter to the Dickinson Press earlier this month regarding Measure 3. As a former UND Student Body President, this measure is of great interest to me, and I strongly believe that it would improve the future of higher education in our great state.

One of the major flaws of the current governance model is that the university system has outgrown the capacity of a part-time board meeting just once a month. Higher education is now a multi-million dollar enterprise in North Dakota, and the investment of our state’s precious resources is simply too large to depend on a part-time board.

Critics will often point out that the proposed governance structure would remove the student voting member that currently exists within the SBHE. The reason for the lack of student representation is simple: under the proposed structure, the responsibility of governance is given to three full- time commissioners instead of an eight member part-time board. The full-time commissioners will all have extensive backgrounds in higher education and management that will allow them to provide the oversight to our University System that the current Board lacks.

In his letter, Mr. Perdue argues that the proposed changes put the accreditation of the university system in jeopardy. This claim is baseless. Hours of research by the ND Legislative Council yielded no evidence that accreditation would be compromised under the proposed structure. Further, the appointment process for the three-member commission would be virtually identical to that used for the existing board. Where is the evidence to support the accreditation-risk hype?

Both students and taxpayers make significant investments to higher education in North Dakota. Unfortunately, under the current model of governance, we are settling for mediocrity at best. This is not the North Dakota way. It is time for the part-time board to be replaced by a full-time commission that will be capable of responding to the issues facing our college campuses today. Bring the change we need to higher education in North Dakota by voting yes on Measure 3 this November.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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