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ND SBHE governing board remains same after voters reject Measure 3

BISMARCK -- Voters have decided to stick with North Dakota's current higher education governance system.

In complete but unofficial results, 74.9 percent of votes were against Measure 3 and 25.2 percent supported it, according to the Secretary of State's website.

The measure would have eliminated the existing part-time, eight-member board and replaced it with a paid, full-time three-person commission.

The measure was put on the ballot after years of tension between lawmakers and State Board of Higher Education.

Board Chairwoman Kirsten Diederich said she is proud to see voters putting students first.

"I'm very pleased with what I'm seeing so far," she said. "We've been working very hard on a new vision and mission and our new strategic plan and I think the future looks wonderful for North Dakota. I'm glad citizens are supporting the board."

Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, a proponent of the measure, said he wasn't surprised by the results, citing support for Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen after the controversial buyout of former Chancellor Hamid Shirvani's contract.

"The message is that we're comfy with how this state is being run," he said.

In the past few months, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges and the newly formed Citizens for Higher Education both came out against the measure.

The Higher Learning Commission, an accrediting agency for post-secondary institutions in the north-central United States, also released a report raising concerns the change could jeopardize accreditation.

Diederich said the failure of the measure doesn't mean the state is sticking with the status quo.

"We will continue to move forward and I think we'll be even better," she said.