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Other Views: Higher ed board's open-meetings compliance is welcome

GRAND FORKS--Crime in New York City was a national issue throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Then it wasn't: The crime rate plummeted in the 1990s, reaching levels that New Yorkers hadn't seen since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

GRAND FORKS-Crime in New York City was a national issue throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Then it wasn't: The crime rate plummeted in the 1990s, reaching levels that New Yorkers hadn't seen since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

New York remains one of the safest cities in America today.

In North Dakota, the following change isn't nearly so momentous. But it's still striking:

For years in the 2000s, the State Board of Higher Education violated open-meetings laws with seeming abandon. Then it didn't. Board members apparently took the scoldings from taxpayers, the media and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to heart, because months have now passed without an open-meetings violation.

Good. The North Dakota University System's renewed commitment to openness and transparency is welcome. We trust Chancellor Mark Hagerott when he says in the interview on today's editorial page that the transformation is deliberate, and that the board is making an extra effort to comply with open-meetings laws.

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That's the kind of commitment that permeates an organization from top to bottom-and for the better. Lawmakers notice, college administrators notice and university supporters throughout the state notice, too.

Nothing was more damaging to the board during the "bad years" than the seeming willfulness with which it repeatedly broke open-meetings laws. And nothing will prove so rejuvenating to the public trust than the board's success at keeping this new compliance alive.

So, what accounts for the change?

We think Hagerott has something to do with it, and we think the board's current leadership has something to do with it, too. In both cases, the leaders have internalized North Dakota's culture of open meetings and take extra steps to abide by it.

The task isn't difficult; it's mostly a matter of resolving to comply. But it sure was conspicuous by its absence for a number of years. And it sure is welcome to see the board now following the law as a matter of routine.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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