This week's theme is "to see ourselves as others see us," and our lens is Dean Bresciani. Bresciani is president of North Dakota State University.
With the election only a fortnight away, attention has turned away from who might win the presidency to how much drag the loser might have on other candidates. In North Dakota, the answer is little. It might be greater among our neighbors. Democrats could pick up a seat in Minnesota's congressional delegation, and Montanans could turn out a Trump ally. Even in South Dakota, a Democratic victory is not impossible, though it is unlikely. But not as unlikely as in North Dakota.
GRAND FORKS—The Year of the Pulitzers: That is how I hope to remember 2016. This is the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes. North Dakota has much to celebrate about the prizes, and we have been celebrating exuberantly. I've been involved in four such celebrations so far, at the Grand Forks Public Library, on the University of North Dakota campus, at the North Dakota Newspaper Association convention in Crosby and at Prairie Talks in Rugby.
GRAND FORKS—A survey of pending public policy issues raises a disturbing question: Why is it so hard to reach a decision? The most notorious case in point is the University of North Dakota nickname and logo. This took two decades. A second involving higher education is tenure of college presidents, at North Dakota State University in particular. A third is the Dakota Access Pipeline, approved but facing court challenges and increasingly raucous protests that sometimes involve illegal activity, according to law enforcement authorities.
The list of presidential candidates with North Dakota ties is not a long one. Four come to mind, and it's audacious to claim three of them. Of course, Theodore Roosevelt did say he wouldn't have been president if he hadn't spent time in North Dakota — but it wasn't much time. He became president when William McKinley was killed, and he ran twice, winning as a Republican in 1904 and losing in 1912, when he ran on the Bull Moose ticket.
GRAND FORKS The highest ranking North Dakotan in the Obama administration is ensnared in the Senate's confirmation process. She is Mary Wakefield. President Obama named her deputy secretary of Health and Human Services more than a year ago. A hearing on her confirmation was held more than six months ago. As yet, there has been no confirmation vote. It's the longest delay ever between appointment and confirmation for the position.
GRAND FORKS—North Dakota's Board of Higher Education appears, at last, to be moving toward a stronger, unified system of colleges and universities. This goal is not new. The board actually decided to build a unified system 25 years ago. The struggle to achieve this goal has been protracted. The reasons behind the goal have been obscured by the drama that has surrounded the board's actions for nearly a quarter century. Why a unified system? To explain, it's probably best to divide the question between politics and policy.
The end of June brought big news in higher education in North Dakota: UND has a new president. And bigger news: North Dakota State University’s president is on a kind of probation. And the biggest news of all: The Board of Higher Education is functioning effectively for the first time in a quarter century. Let’s consider these in ascending order of surprise value.
Comparing elections is a game that draws on the academic disciplines of history, political science, psychology and sociology. Some guesswork is thrown in and perhaps a little bias — to the player’s own taste, of course. Presto! There’s insight into voter behavior. It’s good sport. The game is especially appealing because it can be played with elections in the past, present and future.
GRAND FORKS -- Doug Burgum’s primary election campaign makes a lot more sense in hindsight than it did while it was going on. Just about everybody believed that Burgum had little chance to win the North Dakota Republican primary and that he should have run as an independent. Burgum clearly didn’t agree, and he turned out to be right. Burgum didn’t think he needed Democrats to win the Republican endorsement either, even though nearly everybody else thought he was doomed without a significant crossover vote. Burgum wanted to win as a Republican, and he did.