Roscoe Streyle: How to Change the Governance of the North Dakota University System

Gov. Doug Burgum presents his vision of challenges and opportunities facing the North Dakota University System in the face of technological disruptions. He spoke to an interim legislative committee meeting at North Dakota State University on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. Patrick Springer / The Forum

This guest posts was submitted by Minot resident Roscoe Streyle.

Does the North Dakota University System really need to be changed?  The age old question.

There are only two options in my mind, two-tiered system or enhancing the current system.

Here are the options:

1) Enhance Current System – My Choice

  1. Add a four additional members to the current State Board of Higher Education to balance the work load.
  2. Change the Chancellor position to a Commissioner position with less authority, more of an oversight and coordination role.
  3. Make all current members voting members and empower the board with more decision making authority.
  4. Change the committee that sends recommendations to the Governor:
    1. Why is ND United on the recommendation board?
    2. Why the Chief Justice (Whom I really like)?
    3. Why only five members of committee?
    4. Why does the Governor get no say?

2) The Two-tiered System

  1. UND & NDSU under one 11-member board
  2. Four members nominated by each institution in whatever manner they deem appropriate.
  3. Three at large members nominated by the Governor.
  4. All members approved by the North Dakota State Senate.
  5. Higher Education Commissioners job to make sure collaboration, shared services, contracting, bulk purchasing, legal services, common course numbering, and so on continues.
  6. All other nine institutions under the current board, no changes, but the focus of the board would change.

Now on to fun and bold actions the Legislature and Governor should propose, debate and implement on research in North Dakota.

North Dakota First Research Initiative aka “The Dakota Research Institute”

  • Consolidate all research at UND and NDSU. Enough fighting and competing, let’s collaborate, let’s dominate, let’s win.
  • Create a new research governing board to oversee research at both institutions, this board will govern strictly research and will be made up of 13 members from all across the state and nation.  The best and brightest, with one goal, to make North Dakota the research capital of the USA.
  • UND and NDSU cannot do it on their own, but together they can compete with anyone.  Either we want to continue to be mediocre separately or a powerhouse together. I’d exclude Ag Research from those comments, we’re the best in the nation.
  • The Director of the Dakota Research Institute will be recommended by the Governor in consultation with the research governing board.  This person will oversee and manage all daily research activities of both institutions and have final say.

Enhancing research in North Dakota is the key to the long-term success of UND and NDSU, without a strong, well-funded, well-coordinated, well-managed and collaborative effort, we will continue to just be average and that’s unacceptable.

I know the Governor’s Task Force for Higher Education had good intentions and I thank them for their work, but the recommendations aren’t what North Dakota needs.  Let’s be Bold, Visionary, and think outside the box.  The Governor needs to push the envelope and the Legislature needs to stop fighting him on his major change initiatives and find common ground.  The time is now, this Legislative session to work together and propel North Dakota forward.

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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