Governor Jack Dalrymple will be making appointments to the State Board of Higher Education for new four-year terms. Dalrymple currently has six candidates before him, including current board Chairwoman Kirsten Diederich who is seeking a second term.
But there is some opposition to Diederich getting another term. Several lawmakers have told me that Senator Ray Holmberg, a Republican from Grand Forks and an outspoken critic of higher education of late, among others have told Dalrymple that they will not support another term for Diedrich.
I asked Holmberg to comment on these rumors, and while he didn’t confirm them he didn’t exactly deny them either.
“No comment,” is all he would say in response to an inquiry.
There is no question that tensions between the university system and the Legislature are running high. Legislators I’ve spoken to say they’re tired of getting the blame for issues like tuition hikes despite lavish appropriations, which was certainly the case with the most recent tuition increases. They’re also tired of what they see as wasteful, irresponsible spending by the universities not to mention a disregard for legislative intent in instances like the REAC building debacle and now the Sanford Nursing College controversy.
The State Board of Higher Education may not exist as we know it today after the November election when voters will cast their ballots on Measure 3 which represents major reforms for the governance of the university system. But until then, it’s clear at least some in this Legislature aren’t going to just rubber-stamp Governor Jack Dalrymple’s picks for the board.