Board Members

The State Board of Higher Education is the policy-setting and advocacy body for the North Dakota University System and the governing body for North Dakota’s 11 publicly supported colleges and universities. The SBHE also oversees the NDSU Extension Service and Agricultural Research Stations, Northern Crops Institute, State Forest Service and the Upper Great Plans Transportation Institute.


The SBHE is made up of seven citizen members appointed to four-year terms by the governor and one student appointed by the governor to serve a one-year term. The Council of College Faculties selects the board’s non-voting faculty advisor, and the North Dakota State Staff Senate selects the board’s non-voting staff advisor.



Board Member Tim Mihalick

Tim Mihalick


Term: 2019-2027


Subcommittees: Audit; Budget & Finance, Chair; NDUS Foundation; MHEC.


Tim Mihalick was appointed to the State Board of Higher Education to fill the remainder of an open term vacated by a previous member. Mihalick was also appointed to a four year term (2019-2023) beginning July 2019.


Mihalick is employed at First Western Bank & Trust as a Senior Vice President responsible for Business Development and Facilities. Prior to that, he was part of IRET and its affiliated companies for over 36 years before his retirement. He served as the President and CEO during his last eight years at IRET. Throughout the years, he has been involved in numerous civic organizations dedicated to Minot’s betterment. He is a current member and past chair of the MSU Board of Regents, past member of the board of the Minot Family YMCA,  and he is a past board member of Trinity Health.


Ohio native Mihalick attended Minot State University and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in 1981. During his college career, he played football for four years and participated in track for two. He was inducted into the MSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995 and received the MSU Alumni Golden Award in 2014.


He and his wife, Laura, have been married for 40 years and are partners in their conviction to civic engagement. Laura is a past member of the Minot Public School Board. The Mihalicks have two adult children living in Minot, ND.

John Warford, DDS.

Vice Chair

Term: 2020-2024


Subcommittees: Academic & Student Affairs; Research & Governance.


John Warford, DDS, was appointed to fill out the remainder of a four-year term on the State Board of Higher Education in December 2020.


Warford founded Warford Orthodontics in 1973, JW Cattle Company a North Dakota cattle ranch in 1976 and served as mayor of Bismarck from 2002-14. He then served as dean of the Gary Tharaldson School of Business at the University of Mary from 2014-17. He continues to operate the ranch and to practice orthodontics on a part-time basis.


Warford earned his BA, BS, and DDS (doctor of dental surgery), degrees at the University of Minnesota and his master’s degree in orthodontics at Northwestern University in Illinois. He is a member of the American Board of Orthodontists, a fellow in the International College of Dentists and the American College of Dentists.


He has held many leadership roles on public boards and commissions including the Bismarck Planning Commission, Burleigh County Planning Commission, Bismarck/Mandan Metropolitan Planning Organization, North Dakota Dental Association, the American Dental Association, the North Dakota Society of Orthodontists and the American Association of Orthodontists. He also is a member of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and serves on the boards of the CHI St. Alexius Resource Cabinet, Bridging the Dental Gap dental clinic, and the Bismarck YMCA Board of Regents.


John and his wife Jennifer have lived in Bismarck since 1973, have 4 grown children, and sixteen grandchildren.

Casey Ryan, MD

Term: 2017-2025


Subcommittees: Research and Governance, Co-Chair; Audit.


Dr. Casey Ryan began his term of service with the State Board of Higher Education July 1, 2017.


Ryan practices endocrinology and internal medicine at Altru Health System in Grand Forks. He was president of Altru Health System from its inception in 1997 through 2014.


Ryan graduated from Grand Forks Central High School, then attended Colorado College where he played varsity hockey. After graduating from the University of Colorado Medical School he spent three years as an internal medicine resident at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota. After finishing at Mayo he spent nine months as an endocrinology registrar at the University of Otago Medical School in Dunedin, New Zealand.
He and his wife, Bev, have lived in Grand Forks since 1979.

Danita Bye

Term: 2020-2026


Subcommittees: Budget and Finance; Research and Governance, Co-Chair; NDUS Foundation; WICHE.


Danita Bye was appointed to the State Board of Higher Education May 2020 to fill the remainder of an open term vacated by a previous member.


Danita has been a business consultant and leadership coach since 1997 for small- to medium-size businesses in science, technology, engineering and manufacturing industries. She previously worked as an investor and sales manager for Micro-Tech, a medical device manufacturer, and in sales and sales management for Xerox Corp., a global company best known for innovative digital products and services.


She currently serves on the board for the North Dakota Petroleum Council, as well as the board for The Triple T, Inc.,  and TTT Minerals, LLC, both oil and gas companies. She also served on the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation. Bye obtained degrees in Biology and Psychology (1981) from the University of Sioux Falls (Sioux Falls, S.D.), and an M.A. in Transformational Leadership (2012) from Bethel University (St. Paul, Minn.).


Danita’s been married for 36 years to Gordon Bye. They have three millennial children and five grandchildren. They currently live in Stanley, N.D. Bye’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the North Dakota Senate, but she will begin serving on the board immediately.

Jeffry Volk

Term: 2021-2025


Subcommittees: Audit; Budget & Finance; Challenge Grant Review Committee.


Jeffry Volk grew up on a dairy farm near Raleigh, ND, attended St. Gertrude’s High School and received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from North Dakota State University. He worked for Moore Engineering and affiliated companies in West Fargo for his entire career, currently serving as the executive chair for Moore Holding Company.


He served on the Executive Committee for the American Council of Engineering Companies / North Dakota for many years, most recently serving as their national director. He also recently served as chair of the board of directors for the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, as a member of the board of directors for the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber and on the Executive Governing Board for the NDSU Foundation.


Jeffry and his wife Jeanie have four grown children and six grandchildren. They have lived in West Fargo for over 30 years and have served on several state and community boards.

Curtis Biller

Term: 2023-2027


Subcommittees: Academic & Student Affairs; Budget & Finance; EPSCoR State Steering Committee.


Curt Biller was appointed to the State Board of Higher Education in May 2023.


Curt grew up in Moorhead, Minnesota, where he graduated from Moorhead High School. After high school he attended Montana State University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. Curt has been a business consultant for Strengths, Inc. focusing on hiring, retention, strategic planning, and culture since 2000. Prior to that he spent 12 years in the restaurant business.


In addition, Curt has served the Sigma Chi fraternity in a number of positions for over 30 years focusing on leadership training and development. He currently serves as a founding member (through 2025) for the Sigma Chi Leadership Institute providing accredited educational training in Transformational Leadership.


Curt has been married for 23 years to his wife Cheryl. They reside in Fargo, N.D.


Kevin Black

Term: 2022-2026


Subcommittees: Academic & Student Affairs; Budget & Finance; Higher Education Grant Review Committee.


Kevin Black serves as the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Creedence Energy Services, a leading specialty chemical provider in the oil and gas industry with operations in North Dakota, Montana, Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.


Kevin has previously served higher education as a Trustee of the NDSU Development Foundation, Minot State Board of Regents, and past chair of the UND Petroleum Engineering Advisory Board. Kevin also serves on the board of the Minot Chamber EDC, Minot Sunrise Rotary Club, and the North Dakota Petroleum Council, and he was appointed by Governor Doug Burgum to serve on the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation in 2019.


Kevin earned a degree in Industrial Engineering & Management from NDSU in 2010, and he resides in Minot, ND, with his wife Kalli and three children Reagan, Rawley, and Reese.

Sadie Hanson

Student Member

Term: 2022-2024


Subcommittee: Academic & Student Affairs; Research & Governance.


Sadie Hanson was re-appointed as the student member of the State Board of Higher Education. Her term is for one year beginning July 2023. In her current role, she serves on the Academic and Student Affairs Committee and Research and Governance Committee.


Currently, Sadie is the Graduate Service Assistant of External Relations for the Nistler College. In addition, she is the House Director for the Alpha Beta Chapter of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. Sadie was also elected to serve as the School of Graduate Studies Student Senator at the University of North Dakota (UND). Sadie previously served as the student member of the State Board of Higher Education during the 2022-23 academic year. She was the Commissioner of Governmental Affairs for Student Government at UND during the 2021-22 academic year, where she was responsible for coordinating with local elected officials on behalf of students. She previously served as the Nistler College of Business Student Senator at UND and the undergraduate student on UND’s Strategic Planning Committee. Additionally, she has been an active member of the North Dakota Student Association since the spring of 2020.


Sadie is an experienced individual with a demonstrated history of working in various industries. Skilled in customer service, data analysis, communication, time management, and leadership. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in Public Affairs and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing in May of 2023. Currently, she is working towards earning her Master of Public Administration from UND. She was born and raised in Grand Forks, ND. During her undergraduate career, she was also involved as a member of the Alpha Beta Chapter of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority and Student Ambassadors. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time at the lake, and is involved in a variety of community groups and non-profits.

Michael Linnell

Staff Advisor

Term: 2022-2024


Subcommittee: Budget & Finance (non-voting)


Michael Linnell has served as the president and past president of the North Dakota State Staff Senate and was re-elected as the Staff Advisor to the State Board of Higher Education.


He is in his sixth year as Director of University Communications at Minot State University, where he previously served as an Assistant Athletic Director for Communication & Media Relations in the athletic department. Prior to Minot State, he spent five and a half years with the Minot Daily News as a photographer, sportswriter and, for the final four years with the newspaper, the sports editor.


Michael graduated from the University of North Dakota in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in communication and recently earned a Leadership Certificate from the Minot State Looyenga Leadership Center.


A native of Sunburst, Montana, Michael and his wife, Nichole, live in Minot and have one son.

Lisa Montplaisir, Ph.D.

Faculty Advisor

Term: 2022-2024


Subcommittee: Academic & Student Affairs (non-voting); Research & Governance.


Dr. Lisa Montplaisir is the faculty advisor to the State Board of Higher Education and a tenured Professor of Biological Sciences with a joint appointment in the School of Education at North Dakota State University. Lisa is a first-generation college graduate from West Fargo. Her research cuts across all levels of education focusing in science teaching and learning, with emphasis in secondary teacher development as well as higher education pedagogy and assessment. Her work is funded by the National Science Foundation (2009 – present). Over her career, her work has given her the opportunity to travel to each of the colleges and universities in the state.


Lisa has served in numerous capacities on campus and across the University system. Most recently is serving as a representative on the Council of College Faculties (CCF, 2021-2020), serving as the CCF Vice President and Academic Affairs liaison (2021-2022) and now the SBHE faculty advisor.


Lisa earned a B.S. in both Zoology and Biology Education, and M.S. in Biology at NDSU and her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona. She and her husband Paul have four children.

Serving on the State Board

Individuals who are interested in serving on the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education need to fill out an application and submit it to the State Superintendent, Department of Public Instruction, 600 E. Boulevard Ave., Dept. 201, Bismarck, N.D., 58505. In addition to the application, applicants must provide a resume and no more than six letters of recommendation. The application window is currently closed.