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Accrediting agency to meet with ND higher ed officials next week

BISMARCK — The agency that accredits North Dakota’s 11 state colleges and universities will visit Bismarck on Monday and Tuesday to evaluate whether the University System is meetings its standards.

The Higher Learning Commission will meet with campus presidents, University System officials, state Board of Higher Education members and lawmakers.

Commission President Sylvia Manning scheduled the advisory visit after media reports and a complaint filed by former Valley City State University president Ellen Chaffee raised issues about the system’s governance.

In a statement issued Friday, the commission said it also will gather information about a proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot that would replace the current eight-member volunteer Board of Higher Education with a commission of three full-time members.

“This proposed amendment would permanently change higher education governance of the system,” the statement reads. “Commission policy provides the opportunity to conduct special monitoring when an institution’s compliance with Commission accreditation standards might be in jeopardy.”

The commission’s peer reviewers are scheduled to meet with campus presidents and Board of Higher Education members on Monday and with state lawmakers on the Legislature’s Higher Education Funding Committee on Tuesday.

All of the meetings will take place on the ground floor of the state Capitol.

Commission staff will report their findings to Manning, who will determine if a recommendation for action by one of the HLC’s decision-making bodies is warranted, according to the statement.

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