Task force moving toward recommending multiple boards to govern higher ed

Nov 1, 2018

The Governor’s Higher Education governance task force appears to be headed toward a recommendation for multiple governing boards for the state’s 11 colleges and universities.

"No one is voting to keep the current approach we have," said Gov. Doug Burgum.

Burgum said multiple boards could more quickly respond to the needs of the different tiers of schools in the system.

"Think of it like our school boards," Burgum said. "Would you want to manage 110,000 kids in K-12 with one school board? We have almost 180 school boards in North Dakota, and people love that approach."

Burgum said it's odd to him that when the proposal is to go from one board to more than one, it gets some resistance.

"We're not going to 11 (boards)," Burgum said. "But we want to get some of the same benefits we get in K-12, where we have people on boards that understand the institutions and their needs."

The current chairman of the Board of Higher Education, Don Morton of Fargo, supports the idea. Morton said the current board is squeezed for time, and doesn't devote enough of that time to look at strategic issues.

"We're striving to give the campuses as much autonomy as possible, to let them be innovative," Morton said. "We're trying to do what's best for students. I think it can be a 'win-win' for everybody."

The task force will meet one more time – November 13th – to finalize its recommendations to the 2019 Legislature.