State Board of Higher Education President Duaine Espegard dismissed the controversy over a huge, 2,300 square foot “chancellor’s suite” in an IT building on the University of North Dakota campus as “foolishness” yesterday in committee testimony. University officials were also quick to spin the issue, claiming that the issue over where the chancellor will work while visiting UND and other campuses is trivial.
Which has me wondering, if it’s so gosh darned trivial, why did they change the plans to include a 2,300 square foot office in the first place? Because an office that size – probably larger than the homes most North Dakotans live in – displacing space for 24 cubicles for IT workers (for whom the building was intended) certainly isn’t trivial.
It’s a sure sign that our university officials have grown a bit too comfortable with free spending and lavish amenities when a gigantic office intended only for occasional use is dismissed as “trivial.”
Apparently Senator Grindberg hasn’t yet submitted his amendment to call for Chancellor Shirvani’s buyout, and word is Grindberg will be joining with other legislators in backing a bill to dissolve the current governing structure of the university system and replace it with something else. Perhaps Shirvani’s buyout will come as a part of that bill.
Regardless, the need for such reform was apparent in the largely dishonest and self-serving testimony given by Espegard, Shaft and Shirvani.