On Television: Accreditor Calls Universities "Insular" And Lacking "Self Awareness"


On Chris Berg’s 6:30 Point of View program last night – my first since coming back from vacation! – we discussed higher education. Specifically, the Higher Learning Commission report about the North Dakota University System which I wrote about yesterday.

University system officials were all over the media yesterday claiming this report exonerates their governance of the university system, and to be fair it does say that they are in compliance with accreditation guidelines, but it was also fairly critical of them.

For one thing, the report described the State Board of Higher Education as “insular” and lacking “self-awareness.” For another, the report also smacked down claims from university officials that the Legislature has been overly meddlesome in higher education, noting that the Legislature has a duty to govern state universities.

In fact, the HLC stated bluntly that they could find no evidence of undue influence from the Legislature.

The report also seemed to undermine the innuendo university officials have been spreading about Measure 3 and its impact on accreditation. Those officials have claimed that Measure 3 would make the governance of the university system too political (as if it isn’t political now), and that the Higher Learning Commission might look askance at that.

But the HLC report made it pretty clear that the Legislature absolutely can set policy for the universities, and that the sort of meddling by lawmakers they’re on the watch for are things like lawmakers demanding that their relatives get admission, etc.

What’s interesting is that during the press conference yesterday Chancellor Larry Skogen mentioned that the HLC had produced an analysis of Measure 3 which he had already received. I requested a copy of this analysis yesterday, but I’ve yet to receive it.