Senate confirms Stemen, Hacker for State Board of Higher Education
BISMARCK - The North Dakota Senate unanimously confirmed Nicholas Hacker of Bismarck and Greg Stemen of Fort Ransom to four-year terms on the State Board of Higher Education on Tuesday.
BISMARCK – The North Dakota Senate unanimously confirmed Nicholas Hacker of Bismarck and Greg Stemen of Fort Ransom to four-year terms on the State Board of Higher Education on Tuesday.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple appointed the two men to the board in January.
Hacker is president of North Dakota Guaranty and Title Co. and a former state senator. He will replace Terry Hjelmstad, who is stepping down June 30 after serving one four-year term on the eight-member board.
Stemen is president of First State Bank of North Dakota in LaMoure and Marion and is a former teacher and college basketball coach. He will succeed Grand Forks attorney Grant Shaft, whose is leaving June 30 after serving two four-year terms, the limit allowed under the state constitution.
A Senate confirmation panel recommended 6-0 in favor of both appointees.
Sen. Jessica Unruh, R-Beulah, said Stemen’s passion for higher education was evident throughout his two-hour confirmation hearing on March 11.
She said Stemen believes he will be “the type of board member who will work to build a consensus,” and noted many of his answers were focused around the student, “something I think many of us feel has been lost sight of by the higher education system in recent years.”
“He acknowledges the issues within our University System and is ready to work to improve not only the functioning of the system but the student’s experience in it,” she said.
Sen. Tyler Axness, D-Fargo, gave an equally glowing endorsement of Hacker, relating how he said the board must be a better watchdog with state dollars.
The panel also thought Hacker’s service as a state senator from 2004 to 2008 “will lend to bridging the perceived gap and improving communications between the Board of Higher Education and the Legislature,” Axness said.
The Senate still has one board member left to confirm. Dalrymple appointed retiring Hazen schools superintendent Michael Ness last month to fill the unexpired term of former board chairwoman Kirsten Diederich, who resigned in mid-January just before her confirmation hearing.
Senators confirmed Fargo optometrist Kevin Melicher to the board Feb. 5 by a vote of 27-18, going against the panel’s 3-2 recommendation.
The board sets policy for the North Dakota University System’s 11 public colleges and universities. It has seven citizen members appointed to four-year terms and one student member appointed by the governor to a one-year term. The board also has a faculty adviser and a staff adviser, both non-voting members.
Reach Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .