Baesler: 13 Apply for ND Board of Higher Education

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Dale Wetzel, Public Information Specialist
Office: 701-328-2247
Cell: 701-400-8557

BISMARCK, N.D., Nov. 28, 2018 – State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said 13 North Dakotans have applied for two openings on the state Board of Higher Education, which oversees North Dakota’s 11 public colleges and universities.

The Sept. 27 resignation of Greg Stemen, the board’s vice chairman, created one of the vacancies. The second is scheduled in June, when the four-year term of incumbent board member Nick Hacker ends.

Hacker is eligible to serve a second four-year term on the board, and he is one of the 13 people who have applied for an appointment. The person chosen for Stemen’s seat will begin serving on the board immediately, and he or she will also be eligible for appointment to a new four-year term in June. Both appointments require confirmation by the North Dakota Senate.

The 13 applicants are:

  • Thomas Atkinson, Bismarck, an environmental engineer for the Western Area Power Administration;
  • James Carlson, Fargo, a pharmaceutical researcher at Axis Clinicals;
  • Nick Hacker, Bismarck, president of North Dakota Guaranty and Title Co.;
  • Brandon Lemer, Bismarck, activities director and business teacher at Shiloh Christian School;
  • Robert Marthaller, Bismarck, retired school superintendent and former assistant superintendent in the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction;
  • Timothy Mihalick, Minot, business development officer at First Western Bank & Trust Co.;
  • Lonnie Pederson, Fargo, executive director of the Jeremiah Program, which provides aid to single parents and their children;
  • Michael Seminary, Bismarck, business development manager at Houston Engineering;
  • Taya Spelhaug, West Fargo, North Dakota manager of Microsoft TechSpark;
  • Ruth Swaney, New Town, tribal education director for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation;
  • Wayne Trottier, Rugby, school administrator;
  • Benjamin Vig, Sharon, farmer; and
  • Susan Wefald, Bismarck, writer and community volunteer, former state public service commissioner.

Baesler is chairwoman of a screening committee that recommends candidates for the Board of Higher Education to the governor. The committee forwards a list of three names for each opening. After the governor chooses from among the names, his picks will be forwarded to the North Dakota Senate for confirmation hearings and Senate votes.

Aside from Baesler, the committee is made up of Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle; Nick Archuleta, president of North Dakota United, which represents public employees and public school teachers; the president pro tempore of the North Dakota Senate; and the speaker of the North Dakota House.

The Senate and House will elect a new president pro tem and speaker on Monday, when the Legislature begins its three-day organizational session at the state Capitol.

Because of Stemen’s resignation, the nominating committee will prepare three lists of candidates for these Board of Higher Education openings:

  1. The remaining time on Stemen’s term, which ends June 30, 2019.
  2. A four-year term for the seat held by Stemen’s successor, which begins July 1, 2019. The person who succeeds Stemen will be eligible for reappointment to a second four-year term.
  3. A four-year term for the seat held by Nick Hacker, which begins July 1, 2019. Hacker is eligible for reappointment to a second four-year term.

Baesler said the first two lists could have the same names, although they are not required to be identical.

The nominating committee is expected to meet sometime in December to decide on the lists of names it will forward to the governor.