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Kirsten Diederich

Diederich resigns from ND higher ed board, cites controversy with lawmakers

FARGO - Citing discontent expressed by state legislators, the chairwoman of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education submitted her resignation to the governor Wednesday.

"It was a very difficult decision to make because I believe we have done some great work in the last year and a half," chairwoman Kirsten Diederich said.

Diederich said she realized after the legislative session began that her re-appointment was a point of controversy. The purpose of her resignation was to put the focus back on students, she said.

"I felt as if we were just getting the momentum going, that we were going to get back on track talking about higher education and not putting out fires all the time, and I think my confirmation brought another fire to put out," she said.

Diederich, who has been on the board since 2010, acknowledged the board's history of conflict with the state Legislature.

"I think that there's been a disconnect for a number of years there, and it just came to a head during my tenure on the board," she said. "Even though the vote on Measure 3 was favorable for the board, it appears the Legislature is still not favorable toward the board."

Measure 3 would have replaced the board with a different system of governance for higher education, and did not pass in November's election.

Diederich said the board would probably get together in a special meeting and appoint a new chairperson.

She hoped the new board, whose appointees were announced this week, would be able to "mend this relationship with the Legislature."