Board discusses strategy, policy

Board discusses strategy, policy

At its September meeting, the State Board of Higher Education drilled into policies, goals and emerging trends that will affect ongoing strategy and operations of the North Dakota University System.

During a presentation to the Board, Mark Schill of Praxis Strategy Group discussed “Trends and Talent in the North Dakota Economy.” As part of that presentation, Schill touched on employment over time, prior to and after the oil boom. He also noted how industries had been impacted during changes to the economy during the boom/bust cycle, and how that affected major cities in the state. At one point in his presentation, Schill noted that Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks had all fared better than regional and national averages concerning gross regional product growth.

Schill stated that in order to continue to be successful, higher education would need to focus on flexibility and decentralization, among other things. In North Dakota, higher education could prove to be a key structural advantage for the next five decades, he said.

The presentation touched on an ongoing discussion within NDUS concerning emerging trends on technology, projections for enrollment for traditional and non-traditional students, and an update to the Board’s Five-Year Strategic Plan.

Earlier in the meeting, Vice Chancellor of Strategy and Strategic Engagement James “Phil” Wisecup spoke to the Board about amendments to the Five-Year Strategic Plan. Amendments included changing metrics as they are tracked through the Five-Year plan on NDUS Dashboards. The recommendations had been brought up for the first time at the Board’s annual retreat in June, as well as at later meetings of the chancellor’s cabinet. Dr. Jen Weber, director of institutional research, provided a helpful infographic.

“Though metrics are important, be careful that your metrics don’t become your strategy,” Wisecup cautioned in reference to a recent article in September’s Harvard Business Review. He noted that it would be important to have quality metrics to track data over time, but that the larger work would be through updating the overall Five-Year plan by June 2020. The recommendations on metrics were approved.

Committee business

Board member Tim Mihalick brought forward the Budget and Finance Committee recommendations, which included a transfer of $1.9 million from University of North Dakota operations to the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences operations line; a request for UND to raise funds for the replacement of a flight operations building; a request for North Dakota State University to increase special fund authority for the Ag Products Development Center; and a request from Dakota College at Bottineau, acting through the DCB Foundation, to proceed with a formal fundraising campaign. All were approved.

Board member Jill Louters brought forward the Academic and Student Affairs Committee recommendation, which included a tenure request from Valley City State University. Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs Lisa Johnson spoke to the details of that request.

SBHE Board member Kathleen Neset brought forward the Audit Committee recommendation, which included an update on the compliance plan. Neset said the effort would seek to elevate the culture of compliance to create more safeguards within the system, adding that individuals at the campus level could be identified to be “compliance champions,” to aid those efforts.

Board Chair Nick Hacker and Chancellor Mark Hagerott then spoke about the chancellor’s 2019-2020 goals. Hagerott spoke to nine goals that had been the focus for the year, and how policy was helping achieve that.

Lake Region State College Pres. Doug Darling provided the Board with an update on his campus. He noted the year was off to a great start. While LRSC was down from its historic enrollment the year before, they were still well above recent averages. Darling noted that initiatives the two-year college was working on including a modern twist on apprenticeships that helped address workforce training.

Chair Hacker brought up the Bismarck State College Presidential Search/Board member appointment. He said that BSC had opted to run the presidential search internally. Mihalick was selected as the Board member to co-chair that search committee.

Board Vice Chair Dr. Casey Ryan provided an update to the Board about the UND Presidential Search. He noted that committee was very strong, and was being aided significantly by search firm AGB. The process was moving forward and 60 applications had been received so far.

Pres. Cynthia Lindquist provided an update on Cankdeska Cikana Community College. The update continued a recent trend of inviting Tribal College leadership to speak with the Board on various issues. Among the topics Lindquist touched on were common misconceptions, demographics, and future collaborative opportunities.

Board student member Kaleb Dschaak provided an update on the North Dakota Student Association, which included the first NDSA meeting of the academic year and increased interaction between student government and the university system. Faculty advisor to the Board Dr. Debora Dragseth gave the Board an update on the Council of College Faculties, which touched on faculty representation. Staff advisor to the Board Retha Mattern spoke on State Staff Senate business, including fundraising for campus senates, employee recognition events, and travel to visit the staff senate groups. She also raised the issue of staff morale and family leave.

In other business, the Board approved its 2020 draft meeting calendar, which included brief discussion about visiting more campuses during the regular meetings; presidential goals; a briefing on the Chancellor’s Cabinet studies; an honorary degree request from NDSU; a request on naming of the UND College of Business & Public Administration; a notice about an upcoming meeting of the Joint Boards of education; and an update about fall enrollment numbers.

In Board policy matters, the Board held first and second readings for numerous policies. First readings were held on Policies 804.1 (Tax Exempt Bond Issues and Lease Purchase Financing); 307.1 (Institutional Organization Notice and Approval); 511 (Student Criminal History Background Checks); 605.1 (Academic Freedom and Tenure: Academic Appointments); and 918 (Alcoholic Beverages). Second readings were held on HR 20 (Other Paid Leave); HR 22 (Family (FMLA) Leave; Policies 804 (Equipment and Personal Property Leases); 810 (Deposit of Funds; Investments; Endowment and Gift Funds); and 308.1 (Officer and Employee Code of Conduct).

The next scheduled Board meeting will occur Oct. 24 via interactive video network.