It's obvious this is a mess.
That's how temporary chancellor Larry Skogen summed up the situation left behind by the departure of Chancellor Hamid Shirvani this week.
Shirvani was forced out of the job when the Board of Higher Education bought out his contract last month.
But before leaving, he wrote evaluations of the university presidents in the state, singling out three for scorn - the leaders at UND, NDSU, and Minot State University.
Today, the Board dealt with the fallout of those evaluations that were made public through open records requests by a newspaper and a blog in the state.
Jim Olson was in Bottineau as MSU President Dr. David Fuller told the board how the scathing comments by Shirvani impacted him, his family, and the campus.
(Dr. David Fuller, MSU President) "I would ask you to expunge this from my record. I don't want to have anything to do with Shirvani on my record - I don't want anything to do with him. I don't want to have anything out there floating as if it is some kind of a process we're going to revise. We shouldn't be revising this thing, we should be expunging it."
An obviously upset - but even-voiced Dr. David Fuller told members of the state Board of Higher Education that he and his wife deserve an apology from the Board.
Fuller says he returned from a vacation Monday to find that an evaluation written by former Chancellor Ham Shirvani was on the internet - and Shirvani had made some nasty comments about the MSU president.
(Dr. David Fuller, MSU President) "What has happened here is terribly unnecessary and unprofessional. And it continues to undermine a great system I've been a part of nearly nine years. I believe in this system."
Fuller said he was astounded to find that an evaluation written by a man forced from his job would be released to the press before Fuller had even read it. He was told that legally, the board had to release the document under state law. But Fuller and others disagreed that the document should have been released until it had been finalized with the signature of Dr. Fuller himself.
(Dr. David Fuller, MSU President) "I'm exceptionally proud of what we've done. I'm exceptionally proud of this year and how I've met my performance goals. And then I get that vindictive, mean, angry thing that is sent out on a blog site that's now in the chronicle of higher education."
Members of the Board discussed the situation, with one saying it made no sense to allow Shirvani to write evaluations of the presidents after he'd been let go.
(Kari Reichert, Board of Higher Education Member) "I think it would be highly unconventional to have a manager who for all practical purposes has been let go do an evaluation."
Board member Dr. Terry Hjelmstad, a longtime educator and administrator, said he was appalled to see the language used by Shirvani in the review.
(Dr. Terry Hjelmstad, Board of Higher Education Member) "They're immoral. They're vindictive. They're degrading. They're slanderous. They're spiteful. Not all of them, but enough to make them not worth our time to even look at them."
In the end, the board voted to reject the actions of the former chancellor and tell newly hired temporary Chancellor Larry Skogen to review the evaluations and make any changes he sees fit - even throwing out complete documents - to arrive at proper evaluations that can become the basis for job reviews and pay raises. And, the board apologized to Fuller and any other president stung by the comments of the former chancellor. In Bottineau, Jim Olson, KX News.
With the evaluations of the university presidents still going on, the Board did not take action on pay raises that would be based on those reviews.