Nick Hacker voted chairman of North Dakota's higher education board for second year

Nick Hacker
State Board of Higher Education Chair Nick Hacker speaks during a board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 26, in Devils Lake. (Sydney Mook/Grand Forks Herald)

The State Board of Higher Education shored up its support for the North Dakota University System’s Smart Restart Task Force during its regular meeting Friday, May 29.

Joshua Wynne, who this week is wrapping up his time as interim president of UND, is heading the task force.

The task force will be made up of presidents, faculty, students and staff experts from the state’s 11 institutions. It will discuss how to move the institutions forward to prepare for campuses to reopen in the fall, including addressing testing needs and what various campuses may need depending on their size.

During its April meeting, the board passed a motion with the understanding that students will be back on campus this fall.

The task force will not be charged with promoting SBHE or NDUS policy, Wynne said.


“The task force is not envisioned as setting policy,” he said.

Wynne said he feels his new role as North Dakota’s chief health strategist is complementary to his role on the task force. The task force will provide updates to the state board each month.

The board unanimously passed a resolution of support for the task force.

Friday's meeting was held mostly remotely, with a few members and other North Dakota University System staffers attending in person at Bismarck State College. Those in Bismarck were seated at individual tables; masks were provided. The board hopes to host an in-person meeting during its June 30 session with some individuals still attending via telephone or video conferencing.

Nick Hacker was voted to continue his role as chairman of the board for another year. Hacker originally took over as chairman last year. His term is set to run through 2023. Casey Ryan will continue as vice chairman.

Also on the call were new board members Danita Bye, of Stanley, and incoming student member Erica Solberg. Bye was appointed to the State Board of Higher Education in May to fill the remainder of an open term vacated by Dan Traynor. Traynor’s term will expire in 2022.

Solberg, a North Dakota State University student majoring in political science and journalism, will take over the student position on July 1 following the departure of current student member Kaleb Dschaak. Students are appointed to one-year terms by Gov. Doug Burgum.

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.

For story pitches contact her at or call her at 701-780-1134.
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