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Friday, March 02, 2012


The headline of today's editorial in The Bismarck Tribune sums it up perfectly: "Higher Ed Board Doesn't Get It".

 For months, it has been one scandal after another in the North Dakota University System.

 From the Dickinson State University enrollment fraud and fake degrees

Chancellor Bill Goetz Cancels Media Appearance
Video Link: Chris Berg and Dustin Gawrylow discuss the DSU Situation

for Chinese students; to the never-ending University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux argument; to the Auditors' report saying Minot State University gave away $2.5 million dollars worth of tuition waivers without verification that the students were qualified; to the continuous demand for higher tuition by Dean Bresciani (despite the fact NDSU gave away $15 million worth of tuition waivers).


State Spending

Last week, NDSU President Dean Bresciani went to the State Board of

State Spending
Audio Link: Joel Heitkamp and Dustin Gawrylow Discuss the DSU Situation

Higher Education and asked for a 1.5% increase of the tuition NDSU charges. The board refused the request because just 9 months ago the board approved a 8.8% increase in tuition for NDSU, which exceeded the Board's own pledge to keep tuition increase down at 2.5%.


As part of his pitch to the board, Bresciani once again trotted out the tried and true "if you don't let us raise tuition, we'll have to cut programs" threat (without specifically citing what he would cut).


As the Bismarck Tribune said today:


The tomfoolery was compounded by NDSU President Dean Bresciani, who said in the aftermath that the university would likely have to cut academic programs. He said that the university was "at a breaking point." Such a response 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.



It has been a long held practice in the University System and individual s schools to hold student's hostage with threats of increasing tuition if the legislature does not give Higher Ed everything it wants. (This is why NDTA has long advocated that the legislature take back the power to regulate tuition that it gave the Board of Higher Ed in the 1990's.)


All of these things that have been happening in the University System are a product of a complete lack of accountability to the public, to the taxpayers, and to the legislature. Until that lack of accountability is addressed one way or another, these problems will continue to happen.


We are told that the legislature gave its power to the Board of Higher Education and the Education Roundtable to "take the politics out of higher education".


As the Bismarck Tribune points out:


Board President Grant Shaft, according to The Associated Press, 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?


The politics of the process are clearly alive and well.


It is time for the representatives of the people to realize the immediate need to restructure this system and get new people in place.


The legislature must collectively say "ENOUGH ALREADY" and go back to the drawing board.


Click here to email your elected representatives.


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