BISMARCK, N.D. (Nov. 7, 2017) – Gov. Doug Burgum today signed an executive order creating a task force to assess the existing governance structure for higher education in North Dakota and determine if changes are needed to ensure the system meets the state’s educational and workforce needs in the 21st century.
The Task Force for Higher Education Governance will consist of 15 members appointed by the governor, representing the interests of students, faculty, the business community and all branches of state government.
“Building a 21st century workforce and economy requires us to examine our current approach to higher education, including how our 11 public colleges and universities are being governed and whether the system is operating to its fullest potential,” Burgum said. “This task force will determine whether our current higher education governance structure – now nearly 80 years old – is best able to meet North Dakota’s growing educational and workforce needs.”
Joining Burgum for today’s signing ceremony were State Board of Higher Education Chairman Don Morton; North Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle; Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner of Dickinson; Rep. Mark Sanford of Grand Forks, chairman of the interim Higher Education Funding Committee; and North Dakota Student Association President Kaleb Dschaak.
“On behalf of the State Board of Higher Education, I want to thank the governor for forming this task force,” Morton said. “It’s important for our organization to look at how we can improve and better serve our students, faculty and the people of North Dakota, and that is exactly what this task force will do. If you’re good, strive to be better. If you’re better, strive to be the best.”
“I certainly share the same interest that all North Dakota citizens have in our education system, and I am pleased to be part of this group,” said VandeWalle, who under the state Constitution is a member of the Board of Higher Education nominating committee.
“The North Dakota Student Association looks forward to participating in conversations about how we can positively shape the future of higher education in North Dakota,” Dschaak said.
Burgum will chair the Task Force. The group will meet monthly or at the call of the chair and will provide written recommendations for the Legislature to consider during its 2019 session.
“In an ever-changing world, we need to be constantly evaluating what we’re doing in higher education,” Wardner said.
“This is something that needs to be done,” House Majority Leader Al Carlson said. “The face of higher education has changed, and we have to change with it. And it appears that it’s going to take legislative change to get it done. I’m in complete agreement that we need to review the governance.”
“Governance is a key component when it comes to excellence,” Sanford said. “The directions and actions an organization takes are determined by governance, so it’s certainly appropriate to review the governance process of any organization.”
Individuals interested in serving on the Task Force should submit an application through the Boards and Commissions section at www.governor.nd.gov/boards/ by Nov. 30. Under “Navigation,” select “Application Form for Boards and Commissions,” and select “Task Force for Higher Education Governance” in the drop-down list in the application form.