A proposed plan introduced by new University System Chancellor Hamid Shirvani has a new name: Pathways to Student Success.
Shirvani can call the plan whatever he likes, but it's still unnecessary and unacceptable.
The proposal would create a three-tiered system of universities in North Dakota, with the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University the lone occupants of the top tier. Minot State University, Mayville State University, Dickinson State University and Valley City State University would be in the second tier, with the state's two-year schools making up the third tier.
There's little to like in the proposal, especially from MSU's point of view. First and foremost, the changes would create a clear class system, no matter what you call the proposal. Being part of the second tier would do Minot State no favors. MSU has worked hard to distinguish itself from other schools that would now be lumped into the same tier. No matter how much supporters would assure students and parents otherwise, public perception would not be kind to second- and third-tier schools.
Several changes would negatively affect MSU and set the university back in its goals of attracting and keeping top-notch students. Those changes include ending flat-rate tuition for out-of-state and international students and cutting in half the amount of money available to offer tuition waivers. Tuition would also be charged per credit, another change that would dramatically increase costs to ambitious students. If the goal of the university system is to provide a quality education at an affordable price, these changes fall drastically short.
We also wonder how this plan was put together so quickly. Shirvani introduced his proposal after being on the job for only a couple of months, and now wants some portions of the plan to be in place by the fall of 2013. That's too fast. University presidents have had little time to study the effects of Shirvani's plan, and such sweeping changes should not be approved at breakneck speed.