Three of the board’s eight voting members met Wednesday at Bismarck State College with the top administrators of ten of North Dakota’s eleven public colleges. The president of Williston State College wasn’t able to attend.
Board of Higher Education President Duaine Espegard (duh-WAYNE’ ESS’-puh-gard) says the board members wanted the presidents’ opinions about what to look for when the board hires a new chancellor of North Dakota’s university system.
The incumbent chancellor, Ham Shirvani, is leaving his job next month after taking a $925,000 contract buyout. Shirvani drew opposition from some presidents.
Media attorney Jack McDonald says the meeting should have been advertised to the public. He says the three board members who attended were working on behalf of the whole board.
The other board members attending were Kirsten Diederich and Terry Hjelmstad. Diederich is taking over as the board’s president in July, and Hjelmstad will be the vice president.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has been critical of the board for repeatedly violating the state’s open meetings law. The Great Plains Examiner newspaper has asked Stenehjem’s office for a legal opinion about whether the Wednesday meeting with the presidents was legal.
Espegard says the meeting was “a real good conversation” with individual presidents. He says he and Diederich arranged the meeting and Hjelmstad was asked to take part.