North Dakota University System Has Violated Transparency Laws 17 Times Since 2010


When the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits the North Dakota University System, was in the state recently to investigate complaints filed with them over the university system’s leadership they gave that leadership high marks for transparency.

“The team’s review of many NDUS and HLC documents, coupled with individual and group interviews with NDUS staff and SBHE Board members confirms that the system is currently functioning with a high degree of integrity,” the HLC report read. “The Board’s and NDUS staff’s approach to making progress in this area is particularly noteworthy.The system has made good use of traditional and high-tech communication tools through which it has established a high degree of transparency between and among its various constituents.”

That statement is a complete farce. From 2010 through today, the North Dakota University System and its various components have violated state open records and open meetings laws no fewer than 17 times, requiring the Attorney General to issue a legal opinion in each of those cases. Just to put that number into perspective, that’s about 23 percent of the 73 open records/open meetings legal opinions the AG has issued since 2010.


Many of those legal opinions were issued at my behest, and in fact I have an open meetings complaint against the State Board of Higher Education pending right now (related to their closed “open” meeting with consultant Tom Meredith), so that number may well go up before the end of the year.

The latest two violations concern (ironically enough) the State Board of Higher Education breaking open meetings laws when they met with the Higher Learning Commission earlier this year, as well an improper refusal to turn over emails from Minot State University concerning possible Title IX violations.

But, according to the HLC, there is a “high degree of transparency” in the North Dakota University System.

This is the same organization which claims that Measure 3, passed by the Legislature to ammend the state constitution changing the way the university system is governed, is what puts accreditation of the state’s universities at risk.

Who are they kidding?