SBHE Candidate Steps Down After SAB Post

Yesterday I wrote about SBHE member Kevin Melicher embarrassing himself during testimony before a Senate committee. The guy was clueless about some of the scandals which happened at Dickinson State University, though today the Fargo Forum editorializes in his defense which isn’t surprising because he’s definitely a rubber stamp for NDSU on the board (the guy is the “team optometrist” for the NDSU football squad, according to his LinkedIn page).

“At least one committee member tried to tag the nominee with responsibility for situations that occurred before Melicher was nominated, and before he joined the board temporarily in June,” the Forum wrote. “Again, Melicher was looking ahead while some legislators were stuck in past controversies – situations that developed and in some cases were resolved long before Melicher was tapped for the board.”

Maybe the Forum is as clueless as Melicher, but the diploma mill scandal at Dickinson State and the more recent financial problems at the Dickinson State University Foundation, are issues that are having an on-going impact on that campus. It is not a matter of assigning blame to Melicher, but shouldn’t he at least be clued in to what’s going on?

Perhaps not if your view of the SBHE is to serve as a rubber stamp for whatever the university presidents want.

But that’s not really the topic of this post.

At the end of my post yesterday I noted that Kristi Hall-Jiran, who is being considered for possible nomination to the SBHE to replace former Board President Kirsten Diederich (who resigned rather than face questioning by Senators), has a conflict of interest with UND President Robert Kelley.

Kelley’s wife services on the Board of Directors for CVIC, an organization which employs Hall-Jiran as its executive director.

Hall-Jiran was widely perceived as Kelley’s preferred choice for the SBHE, and the Dalrymple administration has been touting her candidacy to lawmakers, but she’s has now withdrawn from consideration after the aforementioned conflict was made public.

No reason was given for why Hall-Jiran dropped out, but what other reason could there be?

A lot of the players in this war over the SBHE are little more than proxies for NDSU and UND. They want to tilt the favor of the board by putting people loyal to their institutions on it.

This is a distraction, and emblematic of what ails the university system as a whole. We need to stop putting on the board people who are loyal to certain university presidents or institutions, putting those interests first, and start putting people on the board who will run the university system as a system for the benefit of students and the state. And who will stand up to university presidents and other politically-influential bureaucrats when they get in the way.

I’ll be happy when we start seeing those sort of candidates appointed to the board.

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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