Board reviews assessments, DSU presentation

Board reviews assessments, DSU presentation

The State Board of Higher Education reviewed its self-assessment procedure this week, in addition to hearing a presentation from Dickinson State University and an update on North Dakota University System strategy.

Board member Danita Bye briefed the Board on the executive summary of the Board self-assessment, followed by a short presentation from Chief Auditor Executive Dina Cashman on that self-assessment.

Cashman said the process was meant to address ongoing or new concerns. Interviews and surveys were completed with all Board members during March, with an executive summary providing a high-level view of the meeting process and effectiveness, relationship with the chancellor, and more. Ultimately, the Board approved the executive summary and forwarded it to the Governance committee for further review.

DSU President Steve Easton gave a presentation on changes in higher education. He began by noting that from Fall 2019 to Fall 2021 there was a five percent nationwide decrease in enrollment. At DSU, enrollment had increased five percent. The DSU Heritage Foundation had raised $40 million since 2016, committed $10 million endowment to the DSU Theodore Roosevelt Center, and provided $1.1 million in scholarships annually.

Easton then noted that the future of higher education was all about partnerships, and at DSU he listed more than two dozen. He added that in addressing workforce needs not only would those partnerships continue to be important but would offer adults in the workforce easier pathways to success if they didn’t want to be full-time students. Easton said it would be a priority to meet students where they were, which meant extending the university’s associate and certificate offerings.

Easton’s presentation included new programs and opportunities that were in place, as well as future opportunities that were pending approval. Those opportunities included expanded offerings at the graduate, bachelor, associate, certificate, and dual credit level, as well as additional services and scholarships.

Chancellor Mark Hagerott then brought up the ongoing efforts being conducted by the vice chancellors and Board members in focusing on strategic priorities. Six working groups had been brought together to focus on dynamic enrollment environment, educational pathways, challenges in talent recruitment and retention, changing economic funding conditions, technical transformation and digitization of society, and legislative relations and policy implications. The six groups will be bringing their findings and recommendations to the Board’s strategic retreat next month to determine new priorities for the near future.

Hagerott also addressed United States Innovation and Competition Act legislation and regional hubs. He noted that an innovation fund could help all campuses continue to serve their program needs but also meet new and innovative ideas. The chancellor then focused on feedback on Governor Doug Burgum’s Strategy Session, which had been held earlier this year. He noted that certain questions the governor had brought up touched on university system efforts to expand agricultural programming in the west, technological innovation, and workforce training.


Committee business and policies

Board Chair Dr. Casey Ryan and Board member Danita Bye respectively presented the Board’s Research and Governance committee recommendations, including a review of the chancellor’s evaluation process. Ryan noted that they had heard an update on all research, as well as an update on USICA legislation, and discussion on how to present research to the legislature. Bye noted that they had reviewed the self-assessment process and that the process for the chancellor’s evaluation would be taking place over the next two months.

Board member Nick Hacker brought up the Audit committee agenda, which focused on the internal audit reorganization. Hacker said at the last meeting there was an update on audit progress for the calendar year and two clean audits had been approved. He thanked North Dakota State University, the Forest Service and the State Auditor’s Office for their work. He added that finding objectives for the upcoming year was ongoing and the year ahead was being planned.

Board member Tim Mihalick brought up the Budget and Finance committee recommendation, which included a lengthy report on the 11 institution’s facilities master plans that would continue at the next meeting. They would be reviewing the affordability report. He then deferred to Assistant Attorney General Eric Olson, who spoke about hiring a law firm to advise the Board on its fiduciary role in respect to retirement accounts.

Board member Jill Louters, Ed.D., brought forward the Academic and Student Affairs committee agenda, which included an update on the Western Academic Leadership Forum. At that conference topics such as federal funding and demographic changes were discussed. Conference attendees also discussed how the COVID pandemic had changed how higher education is delivered and how students’ expectations have changed. Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs Lisa Johnson added that both Florida and North Dakota had been noted as being outliers to ongoing demographic changes.

Chancellor Mark Hagerott brought forward nominations for the State Board of Agricultural Research and Education. Those nominees were Pam Gulleson to a four-year term, beginning July 1, 2022; Julie Zikmund to a four-year term, beginning July 1, 2022; John Nordgaard to a four-year, beginning July 1, 2022; and Doug Bichler to a four-year, beginning July 1, 2022.

Johnson brought up faculty appointments, tenure and honorary degrees. She also briefed the Board on new academic program requests. That included a request from Bismarck State College for certificates in Applied Design Technology, Clinical Exercise Science, Exercise Science, Graphic Design Technology, Sport and Fitness Entrepreneurship, and Sport and Fitness Management; and a new associate of applied science in Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning; a request from Dakota College at Bottineau for a certificate in Cybersecurity; a request from DSU for a Bachelor of Science in Health Education; and a request from Williston State College for a certificate in Cybersecurity. One academic program termination request came from University of North Dakota for its Minor and B.S. in Graphic Design Technology. All were approved.

Student Board member Gracie Lian brought forward the report from the North Dakota Student Association, noting the last meeting of the year was last weekend and new leadership was elected. She noted that three names had been forwarded to the governor’s office for recommendations to be the next student board member.

Faculty Advisor to the Board Elizabeth Legerski, Ph.D., brought forward the report from Council of College Faculty, noting elections had been held and she listed the new leadership. She said the CCF had also discussed the memorandum of agreement between the university system and Western Governor’s University.

Faculty Advisor to the Board Retha Mattern brought forward the report from the Staff Senate, noting that the group had monitored legislative turnover and how that might impact higher education.

Ryan then thanked and congratulated NDSU President Dean Bresciani for his work at the university, He then thanked Olson for his work as legal counsel. The next meeting will be the Board’s annual retreat, which will take place on May 25-26 at Bismarck State College.