Community Opinion

Dear Editor: Task Force for Higher Education Governance

As a member of the Task Force for Higher Education Governance, I would like to share some insight into the process that was used to develop the three-board governance model proposal.

Unanimously, the 15-member Task Force agreed that a change in higher education governance in North Dakota was needed, whether it be substantial changes to the current one-board model, or something significantly different. The members of the Task Force were given the charge of “coming up with something significantly different.” We developed six goals. We wanted the proposed governance model to allow each campus to be nimble, partnership oriented and cost conscious. We also wanted to encourage innovation, allow for institutional autonomy and require accountability.

After many months of sincere study and deliberation, the members came to a consensus on November 13. As current student enrollment in the 11-campus system is divided into 40 percent (18,239) at the nine community and regional institutions, 30 percent (13,847) at UND and 30 percent (13,796) at NDSU, the three-board model allows for a balance of size. It was important to me as a faculty member of a regional institution as well as the president of the statewide Council of College Faculties, that one board not control 60 percent of the total North Dakota student body as well as the lion’s share of funding.

A power balance seemed necessary. UND, NDSU and the remaining institutions would, if this new model were adopted, have boards that are closer to and more understanding of each campus’s mission, student, workforce and community needs.

Debora Dragseth, Ph.D.

Professor of Business

President of the Council of College Faculties