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Chancellor's leadership questioned by high ed board members

GRAND FORKS -- A meeting of the State Board of Higher Education began on a tense note today at the University of North Dakota with questions over embattled Chancellor Hamid Shirvani's leadership skills.

Board member Kari Reichert requested that "executive management" be added to the agenda, saying she was surprised it wasn't already there.

"I think we need to address it first and foremost or else it will hang over our heads," she said. "We have some unhappy customers, unhappy investors and legislators who have made it clear they'd like to get rid of us."

This request worried Claire Holloway, the board's attorney, who wanted to clarify it was not a request the board anticipated making when the agenda was first prepared, because then "there would be a problem."

Reichert addressed several issues with the chancellor, particularly in justifying the "skeletal" system office staffing and the lack of collaboration for the chancellor's overhaul to the education system.

"If we don't have the correct leader with the right leadership skills in place, I don't think that we'll get very far," said Reichert.

She also took issue with the chancellor's leadership skills, later saying that it was the reason that many had fled the university system.

Board member Janice Hoffarth said 12 of 32 North Dakota University System staff members had left in the last year. "What we're really talking about is not whether we like or dislike someone, but whether someone has the right skills for the position they have been assigned," she said.

One recent staff member to leave is Joshua Riedy, who was NDUS's associate chief information officer and UND's CIO.

The board unanimously approved a motion to conduct an evaluation of the chancellor by the end of June.