Shirvani concerns here to stay

By a single vote Tuesday, North?Dakota’s Senate rejected a proposal authorizing $845,000 to buy out the remaining years on University System Chancellor Hamid Shirvani’s contract. On Wednesday, senators reconsidered, and voted 28-19 to authorize the money.

Earlier this week, the North Dakota Student Association issued a no-confidence vote in Shirvani, and some members of the Legislature continue to express concern with Shirvani’s leadership style. The new chancellor’s sweeping proposal to change the higher education system has also gathered its share of critics since it was unveiled last fall.

The Board of Higher Education issued a statement this week in full support of Shirvani, and the board said it was disappointed in the no-confidence vote from the Student Association.

Well, students and others around the state have expressed disappointment in Shirvani since he began work in August. The Student Association’s vote and Wednesday’s vote in the senate should be wake-up calls to Shirvani and those who support him, but we wonder if that will be the effect. Instead of being disappointed with the students, perhaps the members of the board and Shirvani should hold some serious discussions with student leaders and lawmakers to better understand their dissatisfaction.

Shirvani’s controversial plan, which has been shoved through the process toward implementation, unnecessarily creates three tiers of schools, reduces flexibility for universities to award tuition waivers, and will force out-of-state students to pay higher tuition rates, among other things. Minot State University would certainly be negatively impacted by Shirvani’s plan.

No one is arguing that the university system is perfect. It isn’t. But Shirvani’s grand plan casts a blanket over the state’s universities, without regard to each institution’s unique qualities. What works for the University of North Dakota isn’t necessarily good for Minot State University. Perhaps the board won’t buy out Shirvani, but we certainly hope the sincere concern expressed by lawmakers, students, university presidents and faculty puts the brakes on the chancellor’s plan.