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Senate approves measure to expand the Board of Higher Education to 15 members


The state Senate has approved a Constitutional amendment to increase the size of the state Board of Higher Education from 8 to 15 members.

The original proposal was to increase the board to 11 members.

Senate Education Committee chairman Robert Schiable (R-Mott) proposed the 15-member board. He told the Senate that would make it easier for the Board to form subcommittees to more closely work with the campuses.

"These committees still have to come back to the full Board, and have to convince the full Board that this is the direction we would like to move as a state," Schiable said. "We kinda like that, because even though these subcommittees would be focusing on certain universities or certain things, they still have to convince the whole board that it's what's best for the students of North Dakota."

Sen. Jim Roers (R-Fargo) opposes the measure. He told the Senate the bill requires each institution to be represented by two members on that board – and that’s not enough to take care of the institution’s needs.

"The problem we have is that we have three major objectives in the Board of Higher Education process," Roers said. "None of them are being well represented at that level. That's why we need a new governance structure."

A proposal to create two separate Boards -- one for the two research universities and one for the other nine campuses -- failed in the House.

The measure for the expanded board passed the Senate 29 to 14. It will now be considered in the House. If the House approves, it would be on the statewide ballot in 2020.

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