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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • AG: ND higher ed board violated open meetings law

  • In a written opinion, Stenehjem said the higher education board failed to provide adequate notice of the Jan. 16 meeting at Chancellor Hamid Shirvani's home.
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  • A North Dakota Board of Higher Education dinner social at the university system chancellor's home violated the state's open meetings law, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Thursday.
    In a written opinion, Stenehjem said the higher education board failed to provide adequate notice of the Jan. 16 meeting at Chancellor Hamid Shirvani's home. Stenehjem said minutes of the event also were "inaccurate and did not adequately list the topics discussed at the meeting."
    Separately, North Dakota's Senate on Thursday narrowly defeated a resolution that would have replaced the higher education board with a three-member commission. The vote was 24-23.
    The eight-member higher education board is responsible for hiring the chancellor and overseeing the state's 11 public universities.
    North Dakota's university system includes six four-year universities, five two-year colleges and a two-year budget of more than $1 billion. The system has more than 48,000 enrolled students.
    The system's college presidents report to Shirvani, who answers to the Board of Higher Education.
    The chancellor has come under repeated fire for what his critics describe as a heavy-handed leadership style. Shirvani says he was given a mandate by the state Board of Higher Education to overhaul North Dakota's education system and fix its problems, including low graduation rates.
    Some lawmakers have sought to oust Shirvani, and several groups including the North Dakota Student Association, have approved votes of no confidence in the chancellor. The Board of Higher Education recently passed a resolution of support for Shirvani, who has been on the job for less than a year.

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