Make it two boards, instead of three

Feb 6, 2019

A bill designed to change how North Dakota’s colleges and universities are governed is being changed from the proposed three separate boards of higher education – to two.

Since the 1930s, there has been one higher education board. A governance task force recommended three boards – one each for UND and NDSU, and one for the rest. But amendments introduced into the House Education Committee make it two boards – one for the two research universities, and the other to cover the rest.

Gov. Doug Burgum said he supports the idea of having – as he put it – two “mission focused” boards.

"It's where we could have board members that could really get into the workings of higher education," Burgum said in an interview. "With that stronger governance, we can hold our presidents more accountable, with boards working directly with the leadership of those institutions."

Burgum said that structure will make the colleges more flexible to meet the needs of students.

"We can be more agile in responding to all the competitive forces that are hitting higher education today," Burgum said.

The bill in House Education is implementation legislation. It will also take a Constitutional amendment, which would go to the voters in November, 2020. The sponsor – Rep. Shannon Roers-Jones (R-Fargo) – said that amendment is still being drafted.