Tracker Pixel for Entry

​University system chancellor gets his first challenge

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Say Anything | July 29th, 2015

Photo from NDSU.eduweb

North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott has an opportunity to prove what sort of leader he will be. How he responds to it will be instructive, going a long way toward showing whether he has the mettle to lead what has proven to be an almost ungovernable collection of egos and runaway bureaucracy.

More on that in a moment. First, some background.

In a recent interview with the Grand Forks Herald Hagerott shared some details from his “listening tour” around our state.

One of the questions Hagerott, who took over the job on July 1, says he’s been asking is, “How better can my office and the NDUS communicate with legislators?”

He might have phrased that question differently, asking how the university system can better get along with the Legislature. Because let’s face it, there is an acrimonious relationship between lawmakers and the university system.

Take the 2015 legislative session as an example. Lawmakers fed up with a never-ending stream of scandal and controversy coming from the universities decided to take their auditors and lawyers away.

The thinking was that auditors tasked with auditing their bosses aren’t likely to do their jobs well, and the lawyers seemed to be spending most of their time helping the universities skirt open records and meetings laws.

The university-system lawyers and auditors were moved to the attorney general and state auditor’s offices, respectively. So far it has been solid reform.

During the transition the university system suddenly discovered dozens of audits that weren’t even being tracked to ensure that the problems flagged were actually fixed, and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has accused the university system of putting more legal resources into avoiding open meetings and records laws than complying with them.

“The SBHE often seems to devote an inordinate amount of time creating unsupportable legal arguments to justify violations of the open records and meetings law after the fact,” Stenehjem wrote in an opinion issued this last November in response to an open meeting complaint I filed. “Devoting the same efforts to assure compliance before violations occur could go a long way to avoid these unnecessary and embarrassing incidents in the future.”

That’s a sad commentary on the level of integrity in our university system, and not surprisingly the reforms passed by the Legislature have not been popular with the system’s status quo.

After the House passed their version of the reforms earlier this year the caterwauling from the universities turned a State Board of Higher Education meeting into a more than five-hour marathon meeting. Now North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani has decided to thumb his nose at lawmakers and keep one of his attorneys anyway.

The attorney in question is Christopher Wilson, who is, if you ask lawmakers or staff at Legislative Council, the university system’s chief obstructionist when it comes to open records requests. One of the people who “devote an inordinate amount of time creating unsupportable legal arguments to justify violations of the open records and meetings law,” to use Stenehjem’s words.

Lawmakers I’ve spoken to say their frustration with Wilson was a major part of why the university system’s lawyers were put under the attorney general’s office.

Wilson was set to lose his job because of the Legislature’s reforms, but Bresciani created a new position for him and will keep him on the payroll.

Bresciani is “basically ignoring the Legislature” Rep. Roscoe Streyle, a Republican from Minot, told Forum Communications reporter Mike Nowatzki. “The only disappointment, which does not surprise me one bit, is Bresciani’s game of shifting (Wilson) over just to keep him,” he continued.

Here, then, is Hagerott’s opportunity.

If the new chancellor is being honest when he says he intends to improve communications between lawmakers and the universities, then he should step in. Lawmakers have identified Wilson as an obstacle to communication with the universities. They specifically drafted and passed legislation to clear that obstacle.

Hagerott should stop Bresciani from openly and defiantly keeping that obstacle in place.

At some point, the universities must acknowledge that the legislature governs the state, and that they are not above the law.

RECENTLY IN

Say Anything

Tracker Pixel for Entry SkootersPlumbing Tracker Pixel for Entry Lion’sWayJan2018

Recently in:

FARGO – Water sizzles against scorched stones piled in a shallow pit center of Fargo’s only Indigenous sweat lodge. Faces gleam briefly before the glow fades, and the Native songs begin. Packed side by side, Anishinaabe, Spirit…

One of the most annoying things on the web is advertising that interrupts what you are doing. I’m talking about the pop-up ads, the videos that start playing as soon as your browser opens the page. You get the idea.Well, it seems…

Thursday, February 22, 7pmFront Street Taproom, 614 Main Ave, Fargo The jazz musician and independent songwriter, making music for 20 years and performing for 10. Interesting, arranges in a dynamic and unorthodox fashion. On tour,…

Editorial

Go ask ALICE

by Sabrina Hornung

I was 14 in 1999 when Columbine happened. I remember feeling the shock, horror, and overall sickness that comes with a national tragedy of that caliber.According to a February 15, 2018 article in The Washington Post by John Woodrow…

When will we learn to share wealth?Last week I wrote about how many predictions made by Aldous Huxley in his 1932 book "Brave New World" were beginning to come true in 2018.When I read the toll to travel on Interstate 66 in…

Although the temperatures were sub zero last Sunday, the crowd and competitors were certainly on fire at the Holiday Inn in Fargo for the 5th Annual Bartenders Battle.This event has become a highlight of the year for the service…

By Melissa Martin, Ph.D. Melissamartincounselor@live.com Emotional eating refers to a range of behaviors in which individuals eat for reasons other than physiological hunger; and eating is an attempt to self-soothe emotions.…

Music

​New Direction Fest 7

by Jack Stenerson

The New Direction had no shows booked in January 2012 so one of our co-founders, Charley Wang, decided to put together the First New Direction Fest out of complete necessity. He reached out to 18 local bands to play our little…

Hungarian filmmaker Ildiko Enyedi, whose 1989 debut "My Twentieth Century" won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, achieved another career highlight recently with an Oscar nomination for her most recent feature. "On Body…

In my tenure at the High Plains Reader, I have devoted a lot of column inches to promoting the local music scene of the Red River Valley. However, I would be doing an injustice if I didn’t also bring your attention to another…

By Nathan Roybardsdream@gmail.comYou are absolutely right. The title is not “To be or not to be” from the famous Shakespeare soliloquy in "Hamlet." I won’t be talking about Shakespeare particularly. I will expound the…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

“What are some of your favorite bottles of whiskey?” is a question I get asked quite frequently and is often harder to answer than one might think. One of the great rewards of my profession is getting to sample some of the…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

By Gary Olsonolsong@moravian.edu Radical: Derived from the Latin radix, which literally means the root or base. In political terms it means penetrating beyond conventional explanations and getting at the root cause of a problem.In…