26 Mar Board hears details of presidential searches, evaluations
The State Board of Higher Education focused this week on high level tasks coming due in the near future, including a presidential search, changing presidential evaluations, the strategic planning process and an update on the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
Dr. Joshua Wynne gave the Board its monthly COVID update, noting that the vaccination rate had been robust, and the state had begun expanding the groups who could be vaccinated. Overall, more than 36 percent of the state’s residents had received at least one dose, with slightly more than 21 percent who were fully vaccinated.
Wynne noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for vaccinated individuals, including fully vaccinated individuals could gather indoors without masks around other fully vaccinated individuals; fully vaccinated individuals could gather indoors with low-risk unvaccinated individuals; and the requirement for quarantine after contact with someone infected with COVID-19 had been eliminated for individuals who were fully vaccinated. All other prior recommendations were still in place. Issues that remained were the transmissibility after natural infection and vaccination, the impact of COVID variants, and vaccine hesitancy.
Wynne added that the key question now was on when to relax COVID precautionary measures. He referred to spring semester 2020, fall semester 2020 and spring semester 2021 as, respectively, a red light, yellow light and green light. Wynne reminded the audience that getting vaccinated not only protected the individual but their family and community by effectively reducing the overall risk.
The Board also held discussion on the Williston State College (WSC) presidential search, which had entered into its last stages. Neset, who co-chairs the search committee, briefed the Board on how six candidates had been interviewed virtually in advance of April’s interviews on campus. She noted that the administrative work was proceeding to that end, with on-campus interviews April 6-9, and the full committee would meet during that time. The final candidate interviews would take place on-campus at WSC on April 29 during the Board’s meeting.
Board Vice Chair Dr. Casey Ryan, Chancellor Mark Hagerott and Vice Chancellor of Strategy and Strategic Engagement Jerry Rostad provided details on the upcoming presidential evaluation process. Hagerott noted that the presidential evaluation process had evolved over time from occurring all at the same time to having staggered evaluations on three-year cycles. An option of having an outside entity do the evaluations had been declined as it wouldn’t have been cost effective. Now, the proposed evaluation process would include inputs from Strategic Planning Online (SPOL), campus visits, a survey of constituent groups, and more. The Board ultimately approved the new evaluation process.
Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs and Chief Financial Officer Tammy Dolan provided a legislative update. She noted that overall, everything was going fairly well, and that House Appropriations was digging into the details now, spending time on SB 2030, which deals with the Challenge Grant. Final action could potentially be taken by the end of next week. Two other bills, which requested confidentiality for internal audit, and the chancellor’s contract being discussed in executive session, had both been approved.
Director of Finance David Krebsbach brought forward the 2021-2022 Proposed Room and Board Fees. The fee report included the approval of Fiscal Year 2022 total mandatory fees, including ConnectND fee of $66 per semester and $5.50 per credit; North Dakota Student Association fee of four cents per credit; a new program fee for Dakota College at Bottineau’s paramedic technology program of $400 per semester; a new program fee at DCB’s diagnostic medical sonography program of $500 per semester; confirmation of FY22 increases approved by institution presidents for student, technology, course, and program fees; and confirmation of both room & board and application fees. Krebsbach noted that the average dollar increase across the system was $59 for room and board, an increase of 0.8 percent from the last academic year. He noted that an annual affordability report would be available in the next month that detailed comparisons of fee rates with neighboring states.
Board member Tim Mihalick brought forward the Budget and Finance committee business, including Williston State College Childcare Project. Board member Kathleen Neset brought forward the Audit committee business, which included an update on the Audit Plan and the NDUS Internal Audit Executive Survey. Ryan brought forward the Research and Governance committee, including a focus on research metrics and a presentation from DCB. Ryan then offered some details that spoke to the opportunity available to the research universities to be able to move upward on the research rankings list, as well as seeking additional federal funding for research. Board member Jill Louters, Ed.D, brought forward the Academic and Student Affairs committee business, including discussion on amendments to 600-level policies.
Student member of the Board Erica Solberg provided an update on recent North Dakota Student Association activity, including keeping up with the legislative session and testifying there, nominating the next student member of the Board, and upcoming NDSA elections. Faculty Advisor to the Board Elizabeth Legerski, Ph.D, provided an update on the Council of College Faculty, which included talks about legislative session and a resolution in opposition to SB 2030. Staff Advisor to the Board Retha Mattern provided an update on State Staff Senate, including discussion on current and pending legislation.
The Board heard first reading of Policy 515 (North Dakota Student Association); and the first readings to amended Policies 605.2 (Standing Committee on Faculty Rights); 605.3 (Nonrenewal, Termination or Dismissal of Faculty); 605.4 (Hearings and Appeals); 605.5 (Mediation) and (612 (Faculty Grievances). Second readings of Policies 403.1 (Academic Program Requests) and 1901.3 (Information Technology Project Management) were also held. All were approved.
In other business, the Board unanimously approved the nomination of Sarah Lovas to the State Board of Agricultural Research and Education, and unanimously approved three honorary degrees requested by three institutions. The next scheduled meeting will take place April 29 at WSC.