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Burgum appoints three to State Board of Higher Education

Gov. Doug Burgum listens during the first meeting of the Task Force for Higher Education Governance Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 at Bismarck State College. North Dakota Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman, left, and Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle smile in the background. John Hageman / Forum News Service

BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum appointed three people to the State Board of Higher Education on Tuesday, June 5.

The Republican governor appointed Devils Lake attorney Daniel Traynor, New Rockford-Sheyenne Superintendent Jill Louters and Williston State College student Ashley Thornton to the 10-member board. The panel oversees the North Dakota University System's 11 public colleges and universities.

Traynor and Louters will begin serving their four-year terms July 1, but the state Senate must approve their appointments. A nominating committee passed over Fargo's Kevin Melicher for reappointment, and Mike Ness of Bismarck didn't seek reappointment.

The nominating committee forwarded three names for each of those two spots, which included Republican state Reps. Richard Becker and Roscoe Streyle. Streyle isn't seeking re-election.

Thornton was appointed as the board's student member. She's among the board's eight voting members appointed by the governor, while two non-voting members represent the university system's faculty and staff.

"We're deeply grateful to these and all of the other qualified candidates who expressed their intense passion for higher education in North Dakota," Burgum said in a statement.

Just last week, the New Rockford-Sheyenne School Board declined to fire Louters for staying in the same hotel room with her son and unrelated fifth-grade boys during an archery tournament in Minot earlier this year. Louters said last week that she didn't violate any policies and no sanctions were taken against her.

Louters has been superintendent of the school district since 2012 and has degrees from Concordia College in Moorhead and Minnesota State University, Mankato, and is working on a doctorate in educational leadership from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, according to a news release. Traynor is a shareholder in Traynor Law Firm in Devils Lake and earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Dakota.

Thornton plans to graduate in spring 2019 from Williston State College, where she has been involved in student government. She works as a lab assistant and medical billing clerk at Medscan Laboratory Inc. in Williston.

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