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Morton: Expanded Board of Higher Education is 'Two-Board Lite'

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

"This sounds like a 'two board lite' proposal."

That’s Board of Higher Education chairman Don Morton, speaking about the proposal to increase the Board to 15 members.

The Governor’s Task Force on Higher Education Governance had recommended the current Board be replaced by three boards - one for NDSU, one for UND and one for the other 9 campuses. It was amended to two boards – one for the two research universities and the second for the rest of the campuses. That failed in the House. So the Senate approved the proposed 15-member board.

Morton was on the Task Force. And he told the Board he was speaking as a task force member, not as the current Board chairman. He said having multiple boards would be an attraction to potential board members.

"You have people who really have a vested interest, some insights, some understanding, and can provide the governance, the mentoring, the strategic planning, everything," Morton said. "But not do it on a 'task force lite' basis."

This came up as the Board was talking about a proposal by Chancellor Mark Hagerott that the committee structure be changed, so that specific committees would be assigned to the different classes of institution in the University System.

A concern was also raised by the Board’s student member. Ashley Thornton would like to see one of the new Board slots go to a second student member. Thornton said it’s especially important if the Board adopts a new committee system.

"I go to Williston State College," Thornton said. "I don't relate, and I don't on a day-to-day basis, see the issues going on at the major universities. My voice would be diminished even more if I was on that committee."

The bill is still pending in the Legislature.

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