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Larry Skogen, president of Bismarck State College

Bismarck State College president opposes splitting North Dakota higher ed board

BISMARCK — The president of Bismarck State College opposed a proposal to split North Dakota's higher education governance into multiple boards Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Larry Skogen, who previously served as the North Dakota University System's interim chancellor, questioned the conclusion of a task force convened by Gov. Doug Burgum that recommended three boards for the state's colleges and universities.

An amended bill would install two boards instead, with North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota under one panel and the nine other institutions governed by another.

The change would require voter approval because the existing higher education board is written in the state constitution.

Skogen told the House Education Committee Tuesday that "any attempt to dismantle the single state board of higher education and replace it with multiple boards ... is bad for BSC students and the communities we serve."

"We sit at the same table, we work on initiatives together, we develop a single budget, we have the best course transfer system in the nation, and the list goes on, because we have a single State Board of Higher Education," he said in prepared remarks.

The president of Lake Region State College in Devils Lake also opposed the bill, according to committee members. Burgum has argued multiple boards would allow higher education leaders to be more "nimble" and that the existing system needs reform after it was created 80 years ago.

"Two boards, with focused missions around workforce and research, working directly with their respective institutions’ presidents, will more quickly respond to the needs of the state," he said in prepared remarks to the committee.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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