Emails and recollections of illegal meetings show N.D. higher ed board torn over Shirvani criticisms

Monday, May 20, 2013

The day after she was grilled at a legislative committee hearing about perceived efforts to discredit North Dakota’s higher education chancellor, a member of the board overseeing the system sent an email critical of how her board and staff responded.

Kari Reichert wrote that while North Dakota University System officials put out a statement in support of Chancellor Hamid Shirvani the very day she and two other board members were being grilled by legislators, her trio received no similar support.

It caused her to question why fellow board members and staff would not also publicly support her, board Vice President Kirsten Diederich or board staff adviser Janice Hoffarth, all three questioned by Rep. Bob Skarphol and his House committee.

“This lack of response may lend the appearance that this Board prioritizes the reputation of the chancellor above that of the Board itself and its members, or worse, that the chancellor, and not the Board, is running the show,” Reichert wrote.

That email was among hundreds of pages of documents recently released to The Forum after North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem ruled the board met illegally three times this year and has committed “pervasive” violations of open meeting laws in serial emails among a quorum of board members.

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