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Recent appointee abruptly resigns from North Dakota State Board of Higher Education

Recent appointee abruptly resigns from North Dakota State Board of Higher Education


Fargo attorney Joseph Wetch Jr. has resigned from the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education less than two months after being appointed.

Gov. Doug Burgum in July named Wetch, a Bismarck native, to serve a four-year term on the board, effective July 1. Wetch resigned Aug. 20, citing "unforseen circumstances" that made him unable to continue serving, according to State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler. Baesler heads a committee that reviews applications for the board and recommends potential appointments to the governor.

Wetch did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A university system spokeswoman also did not immediately respond.

Wetch had succeeded former board chairman and retired Microsoft Fargo site director Don Morton, who served a maximum eight years on the board. Eight people had applied for the seat.

Since 2001, Wetch has been vice president and a shareholder at Serkland Law Firm, with his practice focused on civil trial matters such as aviation law and commercial law. He served in the U.S. Army from 1987-95 in Colorado and Germany, as a sergeant and a licensed practical nurse.

State residents interested in serving the remainder of Wetch's four-year term must submit applications to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction by 5 p.m. on Nov. 13. Appointment to the board is subject to confirmation by the state Senate in the 2021 Legislature, which convenes Jan. 5. 

The Board of Higher Education is made up of eight voting and two nonvoting members who oversee the state's 11 public colleges and universities.

North Dakota voters this fall will decide on a constitutional measure from the 2019 Legislature to increase membership on the board to 15 members and to increase term lengths from four to six years.

Reach Bilal Suleiman at 701-250-8261 or


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