SBHE Chair Mihalick confirmed for one-year term; Board hears 2024 Affordability Report Highlights

SBHE Chair Mihalick confirmed for one-year term; Board hears 2024 Affordability Report Highlights

The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) approved its leadership for its next year of work during a May meeting that followed a daylong informational retreat at Bismarck State College. Chair Tim Mihalick was voted unanimously for another one-year term while Member Danita Bye will serve as vice chair.

“I thank everyone for the opportunity to lead and (take on) the challenges that are in front of us.  We’re here to solve problems for students and for the taxpayers and universities. I’ll do all I can to help continue to move things forward. Thank you for helping me” Mihalick said.

Vice Chair Dr. John Warford will be stepping down from the Board in June. Gov. Doug Burgum will appoint a new board member to a four-year term beginning July 1.

Brenda Zastoupil, NDUS director of financial aid, presented the most recent Affordability Report, which is an annual report focusing on student costs net price and the availability of financial aid within the NDUS. The report further makes comparisons between peer institutions across 12 other states. Some of the highlights from the report include:

  • The average 2023-24 total cost of tuition, fees, housing, and food, prior to financial aid and other discounts is lower than regional peers at NDUS doctoral and 4-year universities.
  • Basic needs, which are comprised of living expenses such as housing, food, transportation, daycare, and other personal expenses, account for 59% of the estimated costs in 2023-24.
  • In 2022-23, 54% of all NDUS students received some type of financial aid. Forty-four percent of the aid disbursed was from non-repayable grants, scholarships, and tuition waivers. These non-repayable aid sources increased by $10.6 million from the prior year.
  • Student loan indebtedness for 2023 NDUS graduating undergraduates decreased by 2.7% from the prior year, averaging $28,168. According to The College Board, nationally, the average loan debt among bachelor’s degree recipients was $29,400.
  • Grants, scholarships, and waivers totaled $131.9 million in 2022-23, an increase of $10.5 million from the prior year.

“We take a look at the student loan indebtedness for graduating students because it’s also a factor for individuals as they go out into the workforce,” Zastoupil said. “We have been very consistent in the North Dakota University System over the past five years and are consistently below the national average at $29,000.”


Committee Actions, Board Retreat

The Board also heard report summaries from Vice Chair Bye regarding the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education while Mihalick reported on the Midwestern Education Compact.

NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott applauded the efforts of NDUS staff for its efforts in attaining a higher number of FAFSA application submissions. North Dakota currently is No. 2 in FAFSA submissions after states nationwide saw a dramatic decrease in applications from this time last year.

Prior to the Board meeting, board members, NDUS staff and campus presidents participated in a retreat in which they further refined legislative initiatives and goals from Envision 2035 strategic planning input. Attendees listened to several presenters regarding AI, North Dakota IT and physical infrastructure and other regional and campus issues. The group also honored Darin King, vice chancellor for IT and chief information officer, who will retire at the end of June. King has served the State of North Dakota for 33 years.


Committee Reports

Member Warford reported on behalf of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee. The group heard new academic requests from Bismarck State College, North Dakota State University, University of North Dakota and Valley City State University. They also discussed Policy 6030.1 (Harassment and Discrimination) and heard reports from the committee’s three working groups: 3-year degrees, accelerated and combined master’s degrees and some college, no degree. The group also discussed academic tenure.

Board members Dr. Casey Ryan and Bye reported for the Research and Governance. The Research Committee heard a report from Mark Gorenflo, NDUS chief of staff, regarding economic development and research grants. The Governance Committee reviewed the SBHE’s vision and mission policy and discussed board accomplishments for 2023 and processes for new board member orientation. They also looked at Policy 1202.1 (Acceptable use of Information Technology Resources) and discussed the post-tenure report, as well as presidential contracts.

The Budget and Finance Committee, led by member Kevin Black, heard two presentations from Dickinson and Mayville State Universities about the institutions’ challenges and opportunities. They also discussed legislative priorities and heard a presentation from Rick Tonder, NDUS director of facility planning, about capital projects.

Board member Jeffrey Volk presented for the Audit Committee, which reviewed two biannual reports from the State Auditor’s Office and a report on compliance history.

Board member Michael Linell reported for the Staff Senate. Much of the group’s discussion revolved around Envision 2035 and the Human Capital of the Future Group. They discussed the possibility of expanding a tuition waiver policy for dependents. They also reviewed year-end events being held at the various institutions and encouraged all campuses to hold events to honor staff.

The Board heard first readings for Policies 1202.1 (Acceptable use of Information Technology Resources), 830.1 (Student Payment), 703.2 (Benefits) and 603.1 (Harassment and Discrimination). There also was a proposal to delete Policy 520 to place discretion with campuses.

Second readings of Policies 311 (Public Records), 340.1 (State Forester), Policy 404 (Collaborative Applicant) and 461 (Digital Literacy) also were heard. All policies were approved.

No public comments were made.

The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for June 25, 2024.