New chancellor to be named to north dakota university system
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 14:09
The hunt for the North Dakota University System’s interim chancellor is nearly over. Two candidates remain for the position, but come June 2015, the position may no longer exist.
The job title was recently held by Hamid Shirvani, who received a vote of no confidence in June 2013. After the rest of Shirvani’s interim chancellor contract was bought out for just over $800,000, the national search began for his replacement. Of the 11 people who applied, six were chosen as finalists, according to NDUS Director of Communications and Media Relations Linda Donlin.
The NDUS chancellor presides over all public colleges and universities in the state of North Dakota. Among the many responsibilities of the official job description, they must create “a unifying vision and goals for the system,” “advocate, preserve and support inclusiveness and diversity” and “model and promote an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit.”
Donlin explained that on the November 2014 ballot, Measure 3 will propose the elimination of the 10-person ND Board of Higher Education and the interim chancellor position all together. In lieu of these spots, a three-person board of commissioners would be created to overlook all of the public universities in North Dakota, which includes NDSU.
If it passes, the new interim chancellor would only receive a contract until June 2015, as opposed to Shirvani’s original three-year deal.
According to the Constitutional Amendment Proposal, the governor of North Dakota would be the one to select candidates for the three commissioner spots; they would then have to be approved by a long list of North Dakota officials. Section 1.4 states that each member’s contract would run four years, and they could be appointed for three terms in a row.
Beginning on July 1, 2015, there would be no guaranteed spot for the man who is elected Interim Chancellor on this new board. In fact, it is stated in the interim chancellor contract that they are not eligible for any re-election. However, Donlin explained they have the right to reconsider the contract if and when Measure 3 is approved.
In a statement released by NDUS on Sept. 6, three finalists had been selected after the North Dakota Board of Higher Education conducted video interviews with the six semi-finalists. Former Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness was one of the three, but he withdrew his candidacy less than a week later.
“While I do think I can create positive change within the system, I’ve decided that now is not a time when I am prepared to take on such a role,” Furness stated in a letter to the Board of Higher Education.
The other two who remain are Shane Goettle, a former North Dakota commerce commissioner and current public affairs director at Odney Advertising in Bismarck, as well as Larry C. Skogen, the president of Bismarck State College. Skogen is also filling the role as acting interim chancellor at the moment.
The two men are aware of the length of their potential contract, as well as the measure being proposed that would eliminate their position.
“They are well aware, and that is really the reason why the board decided not to go ahead and hire a permanent chancellor. That’s why it’s an interim position, and all the timing for the interim chancellor appointment is related to the timing of the measure and its possible enactment,” Donlin said. “Whoever gets appointed next week, they know that their job is probably done in June of 2015.”
If the measure is not approved, the ND Board of Higher Education will remain intact, and they will then conduct another national search. This time, though, it would be for a permanent chancellor.
Since Skogen is the current acting interim chancellor, he must split his time between BSC and the NDUS office. As for Goettle, he is not concerned that Skogen’s position as acting interim chancellor will hurt his chances at receiving the job title.
“It doesn’t make me nervous, because my sense is the board is fairly evaluating both of us. I think the process has been fair and the questions have been fair,” said Goettle in a phone interview on Sept. 20.
Should he be selected as NDUS’s newest interim chancellor, he stressed that his main goal is to shift the spotlight back onto the students.
“If we focus on students day in and day out, everything else falls into the place. How can we serve them better and how can we serve them more efficiently?” he said. “If we keep that focus, and keep students as our motivation, we’ll do a better job of building a high quality higher-ed system that moves our students into a bright future.”
Skogen was unable to be reached for an interview.
On Thursday, Sept. 26 the North Dakota Board of Higher Education will make their final decision, and NDUS will have a new interim chancellor.