Last week a former lawyer for the North Dakota University System – one who was fired by embattled Chancellor Hamid Shirvani, if that gives us any insight into his motives – sent an email full of accusations to Shirvani’s legislative enemies. Specifically, state Senator Tony Grindberg. That email has since been introduced to the State Board of Higher Education which is promising a meeting to review the accusations this week.
The Attorney General will also be weighing in on whether or not open meetings/open records laws were violated.
Getting to the bottom of these open meetings accusations is important, but the whole affair is little more than political distraction for a number of reasons.
First, under the law, Chancellor Shirvani cannot be held accountable for the alleged open meetings violations. The meetings in question were meetings of the State Board of Higher Education, for whom Shirvani works. If the SBHE violated open meeting laws shame on them, but ensuring that meetings of the board meet the standards set out by open meeting law is not Shirvani’s problem.
Second, let’s mention again that these accusations are coming from someone who was recently fired by Shirvani filtered through Shirvani’s political enemies such as state Senator Tony Grindberg who are, in turn, working on behalf of the university presidents to push Shirvani out.
Third, let’s remember that the university system is desperately in need of reform, and that it’s reforms Shirvani has been pushing which have him in hot water. We can debate whether or not Shivani’s plans for the university system are the right ones, but the success of those plans should ride on the outcome of that debate. Not petty accusations and recriminations motivated by politics and a resistance to change.