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Senate confirms retiring superintendent for State Board of Higher Education

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Senate confirmed retiring Hazen schools superintendent Michael Ness to a four-year term on the State Board of Higher Education on Tuesday.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple appointed Ness to the board in February to fill the unexpired term of former board chairwoman Kirsten Diederich, who resigned in mid-January just before her confirmation hearing.

Senators voted 46-1 Tuesday to confirm Ness’ appointment, after a 5-0 recommendation from a Senate confirmation committee.

Sen. John Warner, D-Ryder, said Ness “brings a wealth of past experience” to the board.

Ness is the fourth member to be confirmed to the board within the past three months. Senators confirmed Kevin Melicher of Fargo in February and Nicholas Hacker of Bismarck and Greg Stemen of Fort Ransom last month.

Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks, raised concern that some of the new appointees have differing opinions about whether the next North Dakota University System chancellor should be a strong leader or more of a facilitator. Chancellor candidates were being interviewed for the job Tuesday.

“We are sending quite a mixed message to the State Board of Higher Education,” she said.

The board has seven citizen members appointed to four-year terms and one student member appointed by the governor to a one-year term. It also has a faculty adviser and a staff adviser, both non-voting members.

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