Presidential evaluations, strategy top Board concerns

Presidential evaluations, strategy top Board concerns

This week’s meeting of the State Board of Higher Education saw the higher education governing body look at presidential evaluations, the chancellor’s contract, and once again touched on strategic planning.

After spending time in executive session to iron out contract details, the Board renewed or extended all presidential contracts that were up for renewal. Dr. Dean Bresciani shall be appointed to a Distinguished Professorship as part of the Faculty of North Dakota State University at the College of Human Sciences and Education. The Board thanked Bresciani for his twelve years of service and Chair Nick Hacker commended Bresciani for his experienced leadership.

Hacker brought forward the topic of the chancellor’s contract, which under current law was not allowed under executive session. Hacker noted that recent legislation would change that effective August 1, but for now discussions would still be public. The data that would be discussed was based on a survey sent from the compliance officer to the individual Board members. Additionally, Hacker read from a letter regarding Chancellor Mark Hagerott’s performance during the pandemic and associated challenges throughout the system, including keeping all faculty, staff and students safe during the prior year. He said that unlike many other states and systems, NDUS didn’t have a massive decline in enrollment.  Hacker added that the system had come through a tough legislative session with a needs-based budget and changes to the funding formula thanks to Hagerott’s leadership and the work of NDUS staff. Ultimately, Hacker said his recommendation was to renew Hagerott’s contract with a 1.5% pay increase. The board voted unanimously to approve the recommendation.

Hagerott thanked the Board for the renewal and noted that the success of the system came from the staff and the fact that the system was more unified than ever. He added that at least four other states were looking into adopting a similar model of governance as NDUS due to the system’s successes in the past several years.

Vice Chancellor of Strategy and Strategic Engagement Jerry Rostad brought forward final updates to the Board’s Strategic Plan, specifically involving edits to Policy 100.4 (Mission and Vision of the North Dakota University System) and Policy 100.5 (Beliefs and Core Values of the State Board of Higher Education). Language had been recommended for change at the annual retreat in May, as the last updates had not taken place since the early 2000s. Rostad noted that there were additional metrics that could be added to the Board’s goals. Many were ready to go already, but some would need further study for system office to learn how to implement and track them over time.

After legal review, the Board adopted a resolution approving the issuance of University of North Dakota Alumni Association and Foundation (UNDAAF) Lease Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2021 in an amount not exceeding $1,645,484 for the purpose of refinancing UNDAAF’s outstanding Lease Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2018, maturing on May 1, 2028; and to amend to the lease agreement between the UNDAAF and the University of North Dakota (UND) for the continued leasing of the UND School of Medicine Family Practice Center in Minot.

Student member of the Board Erica Solberg brought forward an update from North Dakota Student Association, noting that NDSA would be transitioning back to in-person meetings and was planning an executive retreat.

Faculty advisor to the Board Elizabeth Legerski, Ph.D., brought up an update from the Council of College Faculty, noting an area of concern the Board could be aware of was how an individual from NDSU had announced that she was transitioning to a regional competitor due to being apparently pushed out of her research specialty by recent legislation. She added that when researchers leave the system often research funding and opportunities leave with them.

Staff advisor to the Board Retha Mattern brought an update on State Staff Senate, noting that the group held its annual retreat recently.


Committee business, Board policies

Board member Tim Mihalick brought forward the Budget and Finance committee report, including Board and system office operating budgets and campus assessments for Fiscal Years 2022/2023; salary ranges for vice chancellor and senior officers for the next fiscal year; approval of financial transfers for varying building fund appropriations throughout the system; authorization for Mayville State University to proceed with the construction of an addition to the existing steam plant; and amendment of the Bank of American master lease.

Board member Kathleen Neset brought forward the Audit committee report, including the 2022 fiscal year audit plan; confirmations for compliance and internal audit independence; and internal audit and compliance budgets. Neset noted that there would be further direction from the committee on campuses to allow for religious exemptions regarding student housing. The Board held a motion to formally acknowledge the religious exemptions throughout the system. Neset then spoke to another topic, which included anonymous complaints at Mayville State University that couldn’t be fully investigated as to the nature of anonymity. Neset took the opportunity to note that presidents had the support of the Board and were “on-the-clock 24/7” and were to be held to the highest community standards.

Board member Jill Louters, Ed.D, brought forward the Academic and Student Affairs committee business, including state authorizations for Embry Riddle University and Park University; as well as the annual tenure recommendations.

Board vice chair Dr. Casey Ryan brought forward the Research and Governance committee report, including the chancellor’s renewal contract and a project report from Core Technology Services.

The Board also held first reading of Policy 407.0 (Reverse Transfer), as well as second readings of Policies 401.1 (Academic Freedom), 503.1 (Student Free Speech), 503.3 (Student Political Rights), 520 (Title IX), 308.3 (Political Activities) and 508 (Student Grant, Scholarship, Loan Repayments). Additionally, the Board waived the first reading and held the second for Policy 805.1 (Tuition).

In other business the Board appointed members and leadership to each of its committees; approved a presentation and summary resolution for a new housing project at University of North Dakota; heard a bond resolution from Minot State University; went through Board orientation on open records, open meetings and fiduciary responsibilities; and presented recognition plaques. The next meeting will take place in September.