Now That The Board Has Voted, Will The Campaign Against Chancellor Shirvani Stop?


Though it was passed during a contentious meeting, and though the vote wasn’t unanimous, the State Board of Higher Education issued a resolution expressing confidence in embattled Chancellor Hamid Shirvani.

Meanwhile, in the legislature, the state Senate has already passed an appropriation authorizing a buyout of Shirvani’s contract (a de facto vote of no confidence), but it passed by a slim margin and only after a second vote. It’s unlikely to find more welcoming waters in the House where, I’m told, it’s likely to fail.

Assuming it does fail, will Chancellor Shirvani’s enemies be done? Will they be satisfied that the governing board of the university system, and the legislature, has weighed in and they lost?

Something tells me that they won’t be satisfied, and these comments from state Senator Tony Grindberg (the ringleader for opposition to Shirvani in the legislature) explains why:

Republican Tony Grindberg spoke at a state Board of Higher Education meeting in Bismarck on Thursday.

Grindberg is a vice chairman of the North Dakota Senate’s Appropriations Committee. Grindberg has advocated giving the board $850,000 to buy out the chancellor’s contract.

Grindberg says that shortly after Shirvani started work in July, he began hearing that the new chancellor believed as many as five of the system’s presidents were not qualified to hold their jobs.

Grindberg says Shirvani made that statement to House Republican majority leader Al Carlson. Shirvani denies advocating that anyone be fired.

It’s worth remembering that Shirvani cannot unilaterally fire any of the universities presidents. He can make recommendations to the board, but the board makes the decision.

Regardless, the nature of this complaint from Grindberg is interesting. He seems to think that even talking about asking one or more of the state’s university presidents to move on is in and of itself an offense worth firing Shirvani over.

That speaks volumes. The problem the university presidents, and their stooges like Senator Grindberg, have with Shirvani (and, it seems, a majority of the SBHE) is that they plan on actually governing the universities up to and including firing some presidents.

Frankly, some of the state’s presidents probably should be fired. Whether you want to point to abysmal graduation rates, skyrocketing tuition, abuse of taxpayer and university funds or the acrimonious relationship many of these presidents have cultivated with legislators, it may well be time to have some of these people move on.

And the board has that authority. If the university presidents are worried about their jobs, perhaps they ought to look to their job performance instead of launching a political campaign against the board and the chancellor.