Board reviews contracts, examines budget proposals

Board reviews contracts, examines budget proposals

Closing out the 2023 fiscal year, the N.D. State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) at its June meeting held at Dakota College at Bottineau considered the chancellor’s and several presidents’ contract extensions and budget recommendations for the 2025-27 biennium.

During a closed executive session, the Board discussed NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott’s contract as well as contracts for the 11 campus presidents. Hagerott will serve another 18 months as head of the NDUS through June 2025, after which he will be appointed as distinguished professor of artificial intelligence and human security in association with the Dakota Digital Academy. He will serve in this position for three years after his transition as chancellor.

“It’ll be ten years this time next year that I have been chancellor. I’m looking forward to helping work with the Board through the legislative session,” Hagerott said. “We have incredibly thoughtful, creative legislators thinking about a lot of relevant issues. I’m excited and want to thank the Board for this transition back to academia.”

SBHE Board Chair Tim Mihalick thanked the chancellor for his expertise and leadership as chancellor.

“I’m excited for your opportunity to teach, not only the State of North Dakota but our nation, about AI and human security,” he said. “Your knowledge is second to none in this country. We appreciate your work and I look forward to collaborating with you as we move ahead.”

Additionally, all campus presidents’ contracts were extended for a period of one year.

Board Actions

The Board also approved its needs-based budget request for the next biennium, which will be a 2.3% increase from $792.4 million to $810.5 million, largely for equity compensation for faculty and staff from the last biennium. The Board additionally approved several investment opportunities generated by Envision 2035 discussions, including:

  • Systems and services that directly relate to supporting the academic and administrative use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) functionality at all NDUS institutions. Additional system-level staffing to support AI and ML uses at all institutions.
  • Funding for IT infrastructure, including network, compute and storage systems, information security systems and technology to support hybrid classrooms.
  • Technical workforce development funding for salaries and fringe benefits to support hiring students to work part-time or full-time and as contracted employees.
  • High-performance computing funding to North Dakota State University (NDSU) and University of North Dakota (UND) for Northern Tier Network (Internet2 connectivity), computational research and cybersecurity model maturity certification.
  • An inflation factor increase to offset operating costs during the 2025-27 biennium.

Several capital project funding proposals to maintain campuses also were approved by the Board, as well as the Norh Dakota State Forest Service budget request, Envision 2035 priorities and NDSU Ag and Research Service and Great Plains Transportation Initiative budgets.

Committee Reports

Member John Warford reported for the Academic and Student Affairs Committee. The group approved three academic requests from NDSU and brought a request from Bismarck State College (BSC) to the Board for discussion. The Board heard BSC’s request regarding a dental assistant program and later asked for further information to deliberate at a special meeting to be held July 10.

Board members Dr. Casey Ryan and Danita Bye reported for the Research and Governance Committee. The groups had had discussion about intellectual property policies and heard Economic Diversification Research fund updates from NDSU and UND.

Chair Tim Mihalick gave an update about the Midwestern Higher Education Compact Conference he attended in St. Louis, Missouri. He said there was discussion on college enrollment and costs. He also visited with the president of the Kansas Board of Regents on ways to address deferred maintenance issues across the system. Additionally, the Kansas president presented on how the state has combined workforce development and higher ed departments together.

From the Staff Senate, Board Member Michael Linell said his group had a campus sharing session to talk about the various events each institution holds throughout the year. The group also elected officers for the upcoming year and formulated goals and committees for 2024-25. This included a professional development committee to grow programs and showcase staff and faculty, as well as a committee to identify perks and payments and a committee formulating a Staff Senate Recognition Award.

The Board heard first readings for Policies 1202.2 (Incident Response) and 1202.3 (Data Privacy).

Second readings of Policies 1202.1 (Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources) and 603.1 (Harassment and Discrimination) also were heard. All policies were approved.

To conclude this month’s meeting, the Board recognized Member Warford for his four years of dedicated service to the Board and the North Dakota University System and Student Member Sadie Hanson for her two years of service.

The Board also welcomed incoming board members Donald “D.J.” Campbell and Maxwell Eriksrud. Both board members will begin their terms on July 1.

No public comments were made.

The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for July 10.