Board focuses on policies

Board focuses on policies

The State Board of Higher Education this week spent considerable time reviewing changes to policies relating to governance, compliance and responsibilities. This was part of an ongoing, routine effort by the Board to review all policies to ensure each is relevant and up-to-date for the North Dakota University System.

One such policy that saw elevated discussion revolved around official and unofficial Board Member communications, what falls under policy and what would be considered appropriate going forward. Conversation touched on policy that designates the Board Chairman as the official spokesperson for the Board once the Board had decided any issue, and whether that prohibited Board members from speaking to the public or to members of the media. Legal Counsel Eric Olson reassured the Board that there was no prohibition for Board members to speak publicly or privately, and added that in general it was more appropriate, effective and clear to have one designated spokesperson for the Board.

Board Member Kathleen Neset brought forward the Audit Committee report. She noted that after receiving a confidential report from the North Dakota Auditor’s Office concerning an audit of North Dakota State College of Science, that institution had time to review the report before it was made public and a response was due, provided a partial response at that time, and now a full response from NDSCS is due to the committee May 1. Neset noted that the Audit Committee was reviewing information over time with the intent of providing a recommendation on the review process and any findings that might come from it, by the next full Board meeting.

Vice Chair Nick Hacker brought forward the recommendations from the Budget and Finance committee, which included a request from Williston State College for the execution and delivery of a construction/maintenance project agreement and lease purchase agreement; as well as a request from Dickinson State University to sell its Arts Building.

Board Member Casey Ryan brought forward one item from the Board’s Governance committee concerning the annual evaluation process for the chancellor. Ryan said that the process in place was very good, and that as soon as it was completed it would be brought before the full Board. Regarding the mission and vision of the university system, Ryan spoke on the core values of the system and noted that it was a good a time as any to review them, particularly with the Board’s annual retreat just two months away.

Board Member Jill Louters brought forward the Academic and Student Affairs Committee report, which included tenure recommendations made by the campuses. Olson spoke next on the process for nomination of Board officers.

Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs and Chief Financial Officer Tammy Dolan provided a legislative report. She noted that the end of the session was nearing, but anything that was done could still be changed until the session adjourned. At that point Dolan would be able to provide a more detailed and comprehensive final report.

Vice Chancellor of Strategy and Strategic Engagement Phil Wisecup provided an update on presidential evaluations and the annual Board retreat. He detailed the timelines for the evaluations. Presidents of four-year campuses would be reviewed in June, with two-year presidents being reviewed in the fall.

North Dakota Student Association President Jared Melville provided a report on his organization, which would be holding its general assembly at a rescheduled date soon. Additionally, they would be discussing digital privacy and security of student information, as well as electing a new executive team for the coming year.

Faculty Adviser to the Board Birgit Pruess provided an update on behalf of the Council of College Faculty. She noted that CCF had worked with system office on legislative items.

Staff Adviser to the Board Andy Wakeford provided an update on North Dakota State Staff Senate. He stated that staff had been taking on extra opportunity for professional development, the annual staff senate meeting was nearing, and that staff appreciated being invited to provide input for the next five-year strategic plan.

The Board heard several changes to policy, including the first reading of Policies 406.1 (Academic Calendars); 1203.1 (Digital Accessibility); 802.7 (Identity Theft Prevention); 340.2 (Nonprofit Affiliates); 306.1 (Compliance Charter); 306.2 (Internal Audit Charter); 305.1 (College and University Presidents’ Authority and Responsibilities); and the second reading of Policies Policy 100.1 (Constitutional and Statutory Authority); 100.7 (Institution Mission Statements); 310.1 (Board President and Member Responsibilities); 310.2 (Board Officers; Elections); 308.2 (Reprisal or Retaliation for Employee Reports Prohibited); 308.1 (Officer and Employee Code of Conduct); 611.10 (Employee Responsibility and Activities Theft, Fraud, Abuse and Waste); 302.9 (Faculty and Staff Advisors); 304.1 (Chancellor/Commissioner of Higher Education Authority and Responsibilities; Contract Term); and 603.1 (Harassment and Discrimination).

In other business the Board approved the establishment of a new department, Institute for Energy Studies, at University of North Dakota; approved Hagerott’s nomination of Dean Wehri to SBARE; and approved a helicopter lease for UND. The next Board meetings are scheduled for May 30, and its annual retreat June 26-27.