For Lawmakers University System's Transparency Issues Are No "Misconception"


According to Chancellor Larry Skogen, the idea that the state’s university system and its institutions have problem with transparency is just a “misconception.” That despite nearly two dozen open records violations by the university system and its instittuions since 2010.

And to prove just how committed they are to transparency, the North Dakota University System came into the 2015 legislative session with a bunch of bills to exempt things from open records law.

They wanted to exempt student director information from open records laws (SB2133), but that was defeated. They also wanted to exempt the performance evaluations of university presidents, and all materials used for them, from open records laws along with meetings considering the hiring and/or firing of university chancellors (SB2134).

That bill first got watered down in the Senate (they only exempted meetings considering the president evaluations from the law), and then killed by a wide margin in the House today.

Just 5 members of the House voted for the bill. Not one member of the House rose to speak in favor of it.

That’s a pretty strong message from lawmakers. They aren’t buying what Skogen is selling. Maybe it’s time for the university system to wake up and realize they have a problem.

Probably not something that will happen with the current leadership in the university system. There’s been a lot of turnover of late on the State Board of Higher Education, and a new chancellor will be hired this year to replace Skogen (who will go back to being President of Bismarck State College again), but the top level leadership doesn’t seem to matter. The university system has become a snake pit of entrenched bureaucrats, and pompous university presidents, who care less about serving the state and students than they do about building their little empires.