The State Board of Higher Education voted Thursday to name Bismarck State College President Larry Skogen acting chancellor of the North Dakota University System.

The State Board of Higher Education voted Thursday to name Bismarck State College President Larry Skogen acting chancellor of the North Dakota University System.

Skogen will begin Monday. He will maintain his position at BSC while serving for 60 days or longer as leader of the 11 public universities while the state board searches for a full-time interim chancellor of the University System.  

“He’s a great communicator and team builder and has done a great job at BSC,” board President Duaine Espegard said during the board’s meeting Thursday at Dakota College at Bottineau. “He has a staff there that can pick up the torch when he is gone, which is a sign of a great leader.”

The state board voted June 3 to buy out the remainder of outgoing Chancellor Hamid Shirvani’s three-year contract, totaling just over $925,000 with salary and benefits, opting to put Shirvani on administrative leave beginning July 15.

The state board changed that date, voting Thursday to put Shirvani on leave effective immediately.

“Once you know you are going and everyone knows you are not going to be there, it makes sense you don’t stick around,” Espegard said.

After the June 3 buyout, the state board immediately asked for applications or recommendations to fill the position.

Linda Donlin, spokeswoman for the University System, said the board has received eight applications and an unknown amount of recommendations.

Skogen said he did not apply for the interim chancellor position, but Espegard called him Wednesday asking if he would temporarily fill the position.

“I said I’m a public servant and always have been and I can help wherever I am needed,” Skogen said.

Skogen said the University System needs some leadership for the day-to-day operations of the system during the search for a new chancellor and help getting over the turmoil that has plagued the state board and University System the past six months.

“There’s no secret there is turmoil in the University System, and we need to begin the healing process now,” he said. “I know we can all pull together, hook up the team and get the wagon rolling in the right direction.”

The board will continue moving ahead in its search for an interim chancellor with the help of the Association of Community College Trustees, or ACCT, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit educational organization of governing boards from more than 1,200 community, technical and junior colleges in the United States.

Board President-elect Kirsten Diederich, who is leading the search, said the timeline for finding an interim chancellor will likely be set by ACCT. The state board needs to finalize a contract with ACCT first before it begins.

The state board members were OK with the search process taking 30 to 90 days.

“We have such a wonderful person coming in, it gives us a little breathing room,” Diederich said.

A few board members asked that college presidents be involved in the search process.

Diederich pointed out that she, Espegard and board member Terry Hjelmstad spoke to the presidents.
“We had a listening session where the presidents were very forthright for what they would like,” she said, adding that ACCT requires that presidents be involved in the search process.