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Chamber opens higher ed meeting to media

BISMARCK -- The media will be able to partake in a meeting here Wednesday between the Greater North Dakota Chamber and North Dakota University System presidents and officials.

The meeting was originally scheduled to be closed, but after a critical editorial in Friday's edition of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Andy Peterson, president and CEO of the chamber, said the group had changed its mind.

"We didn't think about it being closed, we're pretty used to just running a meeting and that's what we want to do," Peterson said. "We said they are right, we are wrong."

The meeting is being held so businesses can hear opinions from the college presidents on what has caused problems within the system, what needs to be done to repair it and a vision for the future.

Peterson said all 10 college presidents will be at the meeting.

The chamber hopes to "begin to influence the system to make it the best in the nation."

"There are two groups that benefit from higher ed, students and their future incomes and business and our future workforce," Peterson said. "This is businesses coming together to say to the system, 'This is what we want from you and this is how we think you ought to deliver it.'"

The meeting comes after months of contentious issues within the University System, including the State Board of Higher Education violating open meeting laws multiple times, the firing of Chancellor Hamid Shirvani and issues surfacing about space within the new joint information technology building on the University of North Dakota campus in Grand Forks.

The meeting will be from noon to 2 p.m. at the Bank of North Dakota Leadership Hall, 1200 Memorial Highway.