Is it time to fire Shirvani?

North Dakota University System chancellor Hamid Shirvani is under fire, with Fargo lawmaker Tony?Grindberg introducing a bill at the Legislature to approve money to buy out Shirvani’s contract after only seven months on the job.

Grindberg questioned Shirvani’s leadership style and his controversial changes to the university system. Shirvani’s contract runs to June 30, 2015, and buying him out could cost as much as $800,000. Shirvani said he won’t step down, and state Board of Higher Education president Duaine Espegard said the board fully supports the chancellor. Only the board has the authority to hire or fire the chancellor.

We’re certainly not fans of Shirvani’s three-tiered proposal for the university system. The plan would be harmful to Minot State University. No matter what its supporters say, the plan would create a distinct three-class system. Minot State has worked hard to distinguish, yet would be lumped into a tier with Mayville State University, Dickinson State University and Valley City State University. Several changes would negatively affect MSU and set the university back in its goals of attracting and keeping top-notch students. Those changes include ending flat-rate tuition for out-of-state and international students and cutting in half the amount of money available to offer tuition waivers.

Shirvani has been controversial, with his sweeping proposal, his request to add 30 employees to the university system and a plan to build an unnecessary office for himself at UND. But should the board seriously consider firing him?

We doubt Grindberg’s bill will gather enough support to pass, and we don’t expect the board to fire Shirvani. But the fact that the situation has escalated to this level already doesn’t bode well for Shirvani’s longterm future with the system. The board must seriously address all concerns about Shirvani’s leadership.