On Monday, Jan. 19, Interim Chancellor Skogen gave an overview to the House Appropriations Committee of the North Dakota University System’s strategic priorities for the 2015-17 legislative session. Skogen built the information around the State Board of Higher Education’s five-year plan and connected it to current state demographics and projections, as well as national trends in higher education.
The system’s top legislative priorities are:
- Student safety/security,
- Student success,
- Capital requests and deferred maintenance,
- Funding model support, and
- Workforce needs.
Skogen summarized the Board’s budget request and compared it to the 2015-2017 Executive budget recommendation.
MAJOR PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES
The base funding request for major programs and initiatives contained 13 items including:
- 24/7 campus security coverage ($2.4 million SBHE request, fully funded in Executive budget)
- Expanded security and fully-funded systemwide technology services through Core Technology Services ($4.5 million SBHE request, $0.7 million in Executive budget)
- Systemwide implementation of Predictive Analytics Reporting (PAR) and Starfish/Hobsons retention software ($1.9 million SBHE request, $1.7 million in Executive budget)
To support student affordability, the Board’s budget request included $9.5 million for a tuition freeze at all 11 campuses. The Executive budget recommendation included $2.8 million for a tuition freeze at only the two-year colleges. The SBHE request and the Executive budget recommendation both included increased funding for state scholarships and grants.
On top of the base funding request, the Board’s budget request included 10 items for one-time funding, such as:
- Campus security upgrades ($8.3 million SBHE request, $6 million in Executive budget)
- WSC oil impact stabilization ($2.5 million SBHE request, not funded in Executive budget)
- PAR and Starfish/Hobson retention software ($181,500 SBHE request, fully funded in Executive budget)
- Open educational resources ($500,000 SBHE request, $220,000 in Executive budget)
The Board’s budget also includes one-time funding requests for capital projects. These projects are driven by five priorities:
- Protect health and safety of students, faculty and staff;
- Manage deferred maintenance backlog;
- Address capital needs that ensure continuation of accreditation;
- Flood recovery and protection; and
- Strategic initiatives.
The top-ranked projects are:
- VCSU heating plant replacement ($14,289,000 SBHE request, fully funded in Executive budget – removes $12,426,504 deferred maintenance)
- Replace BSC major campus infrastructure ($1,575,000 SBHE request, fully funded in Executive budget – removes $1,200,000 deferred maintenance)
- NDSU Sudro Hall addition for accreditation purposes ($32,700,000 SBHE request, not funded in Executive budget)
After reviewing the items included in the budget request, Skogen returned to the top priorities for NDUS during the session: focusing on student success, security and affordability; addressing deferred maintenance; tweaking the funding model, and ensuring NDUS has the means to produce the graduates the state needs to supply an educated, well-prepared workforce . NDUS can and should be a magnet that attracts people to our state and keeps them here, he said.