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For NDSCS: An 'action plan,' with Chancellor oversight

North Dakota University System

The state Board of Higher Education has voted to accept an “action plan” proposed by the North Dakota College of Science at Wahpeton to respond to a “performance audit” -- but also said Chancellor Mark Hagerott would oversee the implementation of the action plan.

The audit said there was a “conflict of interest” – because college vice-president Tony Grindberg is married to the chief financial officer for Flint Communications. The college had hired Flint to be a consultant on the college’s efforts to establish a career academy in Fargo. The audit also said the college did not turn over requested e-mails and documents concerning the relationship between the college and Flint.

The board’s Audit Committee had proposed a “temporary oversight” plan, requiring the Chancellor to be more involved in decision-making on campus. NDSCS president John Richman objected, and said his campus had an “action plan” in place to address the audit’s findings. The board split 4 to 4 on each option.

Board member Dan Traynor came up with the compromise language – which passed on a 6-2 vote. He had earlier made the motion to accept the action plan.

"I believe that the action plan submitted by the College of Science is more specific, addresses the concerns raised in the audit more effectively, and should be allowed to proceed," Traynor said. "We should hold President Richman accountable for making sure that this is done properly and fairly, but he should report back to the Chancellor and to this board.

"To appoint the Chancellor to be his babysitter is demeaning," Traynor said. "I think it is unnecessary."

But board member Jill Louters, a member of the Board's Audit committee, said she thought the “temporary oversight” plan was a good compromise – and fosters collaboration.

"I do not see this as a babysitting initiative," Louters said. "I see this as collaboration between the system office and one of our campuses."

The motion requires Chancellor Hagerott to make a report to the Board on NDSCS’ progress with its action plan at the September meeting.


The Board then decided to renew Richman’s contract.

But there was a move to delay the renewal until the September board meeting, when Chancellor Hagerott is to make a report to the Board on how NDSCS is doing with its “action plan.”

The motion to delay approval until September was made by board member Dan Traynor. It failed on a 6-to-2 vote.  Then board member Casey Ryan moved to renew the contract – and that passed 6 to 2.

Board chairman Don Morton said he believes Richman has a lot of support around the state.

"He's got great relationships he's built over the years with key leaders in our state," Morton said. "The one thing I keep hearing from them is, 'He listens to us.'"

The student member of the board – Ashley Thornton – said she’s talked to a number of NDSCS students.

"They love their President," Thornton said. "They aren't feeling the shockwaves of anything else going on."

A subsequent motion to give Richman a raise passed 7 to 1.

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