Board looks at future of workforce, evaluations

Board looks at future of workforce, evaluations

Workforce, workforce and workforce. That was the overarching theme when the State Board of Higher Education met for its annual strategic retreat this week. Among workforce-related topics were a presentation from the Oil and Gas Industry, presidential evaluations, and tenure.

The Board also reviewed the State Auditor’s Performance Audit of North Dakota State College of Science. Board member Kathleen Neset brought that forward, as it had been a topic of consideration on the Audit Committee, which she chairs.

Neset said that following the May meeting, she recommended that the system office through the Chancellor implement a temporary system oversight for NDSCS. Following that conversation, a request was made by NDSCS President John Richman to go forward with a related action plan. As of this meeting, neither the oversight plan nor action plan had been approved. One revision to the oversight plan had been requested and made, although NDSCS had declined to accept it in favor of its own action plan.

Neset noted that the temporary system oversight plan had been employed in the past via recommendations by previous audit committees in order to assist campuses in moving forward through challenging issues. She added that everything within the proposed oversight plan had been in keeping with recommendations made by the State Auditor’s Office. She added that two rose to higher levels, including issues regarding conflict of interest. Neset concluded that the previous oversight plan had ended successfully, as had presidential improvement plans. She stated that she wanted everyone at NDSCS to be able to keep their jobs, but felt that the report and subsequent recommendations from the State Auditor’s Office were too serious to ignore.

Board Chair Don Morton said he agreed to disagree with Neset’s recommendation. He added that his view of the State Auditor’s Report was that it was too critical and at times, vague. Considerable discussion commenced on the nature of any additional oversight of NDSCS, including 4-4 votes on whether to accept Neset’s recommendation for temporary oversight or Richman’s proposed action plan. After a brief recess following the tied votes the Board reconvened with a successful motion to have Chancellor Hagerott provide additional oversight to the action plan proposed by NDSCS.

Earlier, the day had kicked off with a talk provided by Ron Ness, president of the N.D. Petroleum Council. Ness provided to the Board his perspective on the changing oil and gas industry in western North Dakota. He said that performance, cost control, innovation, research, and efficiency were among the watch words of that industry now

Neset brought forward the proposed 2019-21 Internal Audit Plan from the Audit Committee. Board member Jill Louters brought forward the Academic and Student Affairs committee recommendations, including tenure recommendations from University of North Dakota.

Board Vice Chair Nick Hacker brought forward the Budget and Finance Committee recommendations, which included authorization for UND to sell two properties, demolish several buildings, and to increase spending for one renovation; the recommendation for Minot State University to proceed with a formal fundraising campaign; to authorize Bismarck State College to purchase the Health Science Building; for Lake Region State College to begin a fundraising campaign and for the college to transfer funding from its operations to capital assets budgets. Additional requests included appropriations transfer requests for BSC, Dickinson State University and Williston State College; and the presentation of the North Dakota University System office and Board budgets for the next biennium.

Board member Casey Ryan brought forward two topics: the UND President Search and the Board Self Evaluation. On the UND President Search, Ryan noted that the search committee had been put together and was now taking its first steps in the process. On the Board’s Self Evaluation, Casey noted the 20-page report was generally positive, yet called for better communication among Board members.

Hacker opened up the topic of Board self-governance, which included Committee Authority, and 2019-2020 Board Committees, the latter of which would be effective July 1.

The Board heard other reports, including those from North Dakota Student Association, Council of College Faculty and North Dakota State Staff Senate. Additional agenda items covered the Dickinson State University Dual Mission/Mission Statement, the upcoming NDUS Strategic Planning process, and approval of the renaming of NDSU’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to the Senator William (Bill) Bowman Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

In other business, the Board approved the first readings of Policies 302.7 (Research Committee); 508.3 (Skilled Workforce Scholarship and Student Loan Repayment Programs); 302.3 (Budget and Finance Committee); 804 (Equipment and Personal Property Leases); 804.1 (Tax Exempt Bond Issues and Lease Purchase Financing); 810 (Deposit of Funds; Investments; Endowment and Gift Funds); HR 20 (Other Paid Leave); HR 22 (Family Leave); and 308.1 (Officer and Employee Code of Conduct). The second readings of Policies 302.7, 508.3, and HR 22 were all waived. Second readings were held on Policies 402.9 (Admission Policies – New International Students); 503.1 (Student Free Speech and Expression); and 401.1 (Academic Freedom). All were approved. Additionally, the Board discussed both the contract for Chancellor Mark Hagerott, as well as the contracts for the campus presidents following an executive session to discuss confidential details. All were renewed.

To conclude the meeting, Morton presented recognition plaques to outgoing Board members. The next Board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 26 at Lake Region State College.