Higher ed board doesn’t get itThe North Dakota Board of Higher Education recently denied a request from North Dakota State University for a one-half of 1 percent tuition increase. While the outcome was correct, the reasoning behind the decision fails the test of responsible management of the university system.
By: The Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
The North Dakota Board of Higher Education recently denied a request from North Dakota State University for a one-half of 1 percent tuition increase. While the outcome was correct, the reasoning behind the decision fails the test of responsible management of the university system.
Some board members expressed concern that the Legislature might retaliate if the board approved the tuition increase.
Board President Grant Shaft said lawmakers might strip the 8.8 percent tuition increase granted NDSU in the spring of 2011, if the board would approve the half percent now.
What kind of reason is it for a professional board of higher education to take action on tuition based on a fear of retaliation by the Legislature? Shouldn’t the 8.8 percent voted last year, on top of years of steady increase, be a good enough reason to deny the request? Isn’t the exploding cost of higher education a good enough reason? Shouldn’t the “aye” or “nay” for a tuition increase be based on its merits? Shouldn’t affordability be an issue?
While the Tribune agrees the Board of Higher Education should have nixed the tuition increase, there was a great deal of merit in the words of board member Michael Haugen, who said, “I’m not going to acquiesce to one or two or however many legislators. We have to do what’s right here. What’s right is to look at the figures and vote on them.” At least, he voted his convictions.
The tomfoolery was compounded by NDSU President Dean Bresciani, who said the university would likely have to cut academic programs. He said that the university was “at a breaking point.” This leaves us incredulous.
Rather, Bresciani should be called to task for making the request given the escalating trends in tuition at NDSU and, in particular, the increase last spring that snubbed the Legislature.
The board is tasked with managing the university system, and that management is being called into question by this flawed decision-making process and recent events at Dickinson State University, where an internal audit of the program for international students found students admitted to the program without meeting basic standards and degrees granted without proper credits.
North Dakota Republican House Majority Leader Al Carlson has already begun beating the drum against the Board of Higher Education, taking up its problems with the interim Higher Education Committee. Carlson’s no friend of the board. He would rather see the university system under the management of the Legislature, and he’s willing to propose constitutional changes aimed at making that happen.
And the board just keeps playing into his hands.
Carlson is certainly right about demanding accountability from the Board of Higher Education, which should not be confused with retaliation.