Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear readers,

A Dickinson reader sent me the following question:

With the news from DSU (Dickinson State University), maybe you could ask about the procedures for the chancellor and board to remove a president, the appeals process, whether it will all be open to the public, etc.

Thanks for writing! I talked to Pat Seaworth, general counsel and executive secretary to the state Board of Higher Education. He discussed University System policies in general terms and helped me find them on the University System’s website.

After a notice of intent to dismiss, the employee has a chance to respond, Seaworth said.

If the state Board of Higher Education proceeds with the dismissal for cause, an opportunity for an evidentiary hearing is permitted. Both sides have an opportunity to provide witnesses and documented evidence.

The board can decide to preside over the hearing or appoint a hearing officer to conduct the hearing and report back, Seaworth said. The board would then meet to consider the findings and make a final decision.

The evidentiary hearing can be closed to the public at the discretion of the board unless the employee asks that it be open, in which case it must be open, Seaworth said.

(This can be found in North Dakota Century Code 15-10-17: the board may appoint and remove the president … provided that the consideration of the appointment or removal of any such personnel shall be in executive session if the board chooses unless the individual involved requests that the meeting be open to other individuals or to the public.)

You can find University System policies by going here. Here are policies related to your question:

Policy 305.1 (5): Presidents are hired by and shall serve at the pleasure of the board … The board may, with written notice of one year prior to expiration of a contract term, terminate the contract without cause.

The board may dismiss a president for just cause during a contract term, following written notice of intent to do so and an opportunity for an evidentiary hearing. The board may appoint a hearing officer to conduct the hearing and make findings of fact, conclusions of law and a recommendation to the board, which shall then make its decision based on the hearing record.

Policy 608.2 (3) Just cause means just cause for dismissal of staff employees as defined in the North Dakota University System Human Resource Policy Manual.

Notice of intent to dismiss for cause, stating the reasons for the proposed action, shall be given by a department head or other designated official unless the employee is an institution officer who reports directly to the institution’s chief executive, in which case the chief executive shall give notice, or a university system employee who reports to the chancellor, in which case the chancellor shall give notice.

The notice shall be given at least five calendar days prior to the date of dismissal and the employee has the right, within that time, to respond in writing and request a pre-termination review.

Do you have a question for a North Dakota state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505.

Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.