Board of Higher Education Finalists Chosen

December 18, 2018

State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced Monday that a nominating committee has recommended candidates for three openings on North Dakota’s Board of Higher Education.

The board now has one vacancy, created by the September resignation of former vice chairman Greg Stemen. The eight-member board will have two more openings on June 30, when Stemen’s original four-year term ends, and the four-year term of incumbent board member Nick Hacker expires.

The nominating committee on Monday chose these finalists for the three openings:

For Stemen’s unexpired term, which ends June 30:

  • Timothy Mihalick, Minot, a business development officer at First Western Bank & Trust of Minot;
  • Thomas Atkinson, Bismarck, an environmental engineer for the Western Area Power Administration; and
  • Lonnie Pederson, Oxbow, director of the Jeremiah Program, which provides aid to single parents and their children.

For a new four-year term that begins July 1: Mihalick, Atkinson and Pederson.

For a new four-year term, which begins July 1, for the seat now held by incumbent Nick Hacker:

  • Hacker, of Bismarck, the president of North Dakota Guaranty & Title Co.;
  • Mike Seminary, Bismarck, who is business development manager at Houston Engineering and a former mayor of Bismarck; and
  • Taya Spelhaug, West Fargo, the North Dakota manager of Microsoft TechSpark, which promotes broadband access and computer science in schools.

Baesler is chair of a five-member committee that recommends whom the governor should appoint to the Board of Higher Education. Gov. Doug Burgum will make the final choices. His picks are subject to confirmation by the North Dakota Senate.

Choosing identical lists for Stemen’s unexpired term, and for the new four-year term that follows it, will give Burgum the option of appointing the same person for both terms. That would avoid the possibility that a newly selected Board of Higher Education member would serve for less than six months.

The nominating committee’s other members are North Dakota House Speaker Lawrence Klemin, R-Bismarck; state Sen. David Hogue, R-Minot, the North Dakota Senate’s president pro tempore; Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle; and Nick Archuleta, the president of North Dakota United, which represents public employees and school teachers. The nominating committee is established in the North Dakota Constitution.

The Board of Higher Education oversees the 11 public colleges and universities in the North Dakota University System. It has eight voting members and two advisory members who represent the university system’s faculty and staff.