Special Board meeting focuses on Smart Restart

Special Board meeting focuses on Smart Restart

A special meeting of the State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) focused mainly on the North Dakota University System (NDUS) Smart Restart, but also delved into other territory related to Title IX policies and strategic planning.

Dr. Joshua Wynne, dean of the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences and chair of the NDUS Smart Restart Task Force, provided an overview of the guidelines the task force developed.

Wynne noted that the university system pivoted effectively to respond with online programming, but students greatly preferred on campus experiences. He added that the realities of coronavirus (COVID-19) made that difficult, so the task force was charged with making it as safe as feasible given the situations. The task force had three working groups, one for research universities, one for regional universities and one for community colleges. Wynne listed the membership of the task force, which included campus representation and system office personnel brought together on three main tasks.

Wynne said that was broken down into collecting policies and procedures related to safety and security, find similarities among campuses so they would be able to benefit from solutions to similar challenges, and figure out what, if anything, might work systemwide. He noted that widespread testing of returning students, faculty and staff would provide the first measure of safety for the campuses. Details of the plan would be finalized this week. Discussion followed on what would happen when positive cases occurred, and how quarantine and contact tracing would take place, which would be managed on a campus level.

Chancellor Mark Hagerott and NDUS Legal Counsel Eric Olson then spoke about preparations for returning to campus next month, which included legal liability protections, mask recommendations, an endorsement of the N.D. Department of Health (DoH) testing strategy and a staggered student fall arrival to campus. Ultimately the Board approved adoption of the legal liability protection statement, the mask recommendation for campuses, and the testing strategy and the flexibility to stagger student arrival.

Olson brought forward the second reading of amended policies related to new Policy 520 (Title IX) which were driven by recently released federal regulations. They consisted of Policies 308.1 (Officer and Employee Code of Conduct), 308.2 (Required Reports of Violations; Reprisal or Retaliation Prohibited), 514 (Due Process Requirements for Student Conduct That May Result in Suspension or Expulsion); 603.1 (Harassment and Discrimination); 605.3 (Nonrenewal, Termination or Dismissal of Faculty); 605.4 (Hearings and Appeals); 608.2 (NDUS Employees – Non-renewal and Dismissals); HR 25 (Job Discipline-Dismissal); HR 27 (Appeal Procedures); and HR 28 (Grievance Procedures).

Interim Vice Chancellor of Strategy and Strategic Engagement Jerry Rostad and Public Affairs Manager Chris Erickson then guided the Board through the strategic planning process, which included background on the need for a strategic plan, Envision 2030, campus visits this past year and a systemwide survey that all culminated in the Strategic Review document. Additionally, the Board briefly discussed Goals 1 and 2 of the strategic plan and the metrics related to each.

The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 27 via Teams.