North Dakota Commission of Higher Education Amendment, Measure 3 (2014)

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Measure 3
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Article VIII
Referred by:North Dakota Legislature
Status:On the ballot
2014 measures
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June 10
Measure 1Approveda
November 4
Measure 1
Measure 2
Measure 3
Measure 4
Parental Rights Initiative
Pharmacy Ownership Initiative

The North Dakota Commission of Higher Education Amendment, Measure 3 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of North Dakota as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would eliminate the part-time eight-member board of higher education and chancellor's office and, in lieu, create an appointed full-time three-member commission of higher education to oversee and administer all public higher education in the state.[1]

The amendment was introduced into the North Dakota Legislature as House Concurrent Resolution 3047.[1]

Text of measure

Constitutional changes

Measure 3 repeals and replaces Section 6 of Article VII of the Constitution of North Dakota with a new section. The new section reads:[1]

1. A three-member commission of higher education is created for the purpose of overseeing and administering the provision of public higher education at sites that include Bismarck, Bottineau, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, Mayville, Minot, Valley City, Wahpeton, and Williston.

2. The governor shall appoint each member of the commission from a list of at least three nominees agreed to by a majority of the following:

a. The speaker of the house of representatives;
b. The president pro tempore of the senate;
c. The chief justice of the North Dakota supreme court;
d. The superintendent of public instruction; and
e. A representative of an educational interest group selected by three of the four aforementioned individuals.

3. The governor shall ensure that one member of the commission has leadership experience in a private sector business, industry, or service, and that one member, at the time of appointment, holds a professional position within the higher education sector. Each member of the commission must be confirmed by the senate.
4. The term of office for each commission member is four years, except that the initial terms must be staggered by lot so that no more than one member's term expires each year. Each term begins on July first and members may be reappointed to three consecutive terms.
5. A member of the commission is subject to removal by impeachment in the same manner as that established for the removal of the governor.
6. a. The commission has full executive responsibility for the management and operation of the North Dakota university system, within constitutional and statutory requirements and limitations.

b. The commission shall hire a president for each institution within the system and each president shall report to the commission.

7. The legislative assembly may provide for the appointment of an advisory board that includes a faculty and a student representative.[2]






  • Sen. Mac Schneider (D-42) expressed concerns that the measure might limit academic freedom. Part of the amendment reads, “[the board] shall have full authority over the institutions under its control with the right, among its other powers, to prescribe, limit, or modify the courses offered at the several institutions.”[3]
  • Sen. Connie Triplett (D-18) argued that the amendment may disempower university presidents. She said, “I think (board members) perceive, rightly, that their job is to set general broad policies for the institution. My concern is that if you got three full-time people… that they’re going to effectively run the institutions and there won’t be any space left for institutional presidents.”[3]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of North Dakota ballot measures, 2014


  • Grand Forks Herald said, "But if the amendment passes in November, the links in the anchor chains would be changed into paper clips. For the new language simply lists 11 communities and says they’ll be home to higher ed “sites.” So, what exactly is a “site”? Well, it could be a traditional campus, as can be found in each of those 11 communities today. But could it instead be a stand-alone warehouse owned by the university system? Or a storefront? Or Room 4B in an office complex — with no college campus at all?... This year’s debate mostly will be about replacing the higher-education board. But that isn’t all it should be about, and North Dakota voters should know that there’s more to the higher-ed amendment than meets the eye."[4]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the North Dakota Constitution

According to Section 16 of Article IV of the North Dakota Constitution, the legislature had to approve the bill by a simple majority in order to place the measure on the ballot. HCR 3047 was passed by the North Dakota Senate on April 22, 2013. The bill was passed by the North Dakota House on April 23, 2013.[5]

Senate vote

April 22, 2013 Senate vote

North Dakota HCR 3047 Senate Vote
Approveda Yes 25 54.35%

House vote

April 23, 2013 House vote

North Dakota HCR 3047 House Vote
Approveda Yes 55 61.80%

See also

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