New officers elected at regular Board meeting

May 12, 2015

The State Board of Higher Education elected new officers this week during its regular monthly business after its special meeting to name a new chancellor had concluded.

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Current Board Vice Chair Kathleen Neset was elected as Board Chair and Don Morton was elected as Vice Chair, both unanimously. Their one-year terms will begin July 1, 2015. Neset will step into the role currently filled by Dr. Terry Hjelmstad, who will step down June 30 after serving a four-year term, with the last four months also serving as Chair.

The board also recognized its two newest members who were appointed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple in January. Hjelmstad and the board welcomed Nicholas Hacker, Bismarck, and Greg Stemen, Fort Ransom, who are each beginning four-year terms.

Hacker serves as president of the North Dakota Guaranty and Title Company. Stemen is president of First State Bank of North Dakota in LaMoure and Marion.

Hacker and Stemen will respectively succeed Hjelmstad and Board Member Grant Shaft. Shaft has served two four-year terms.

Additionally, the Board unanimously moved to appoint both Keith Peltier and Dean M. Wehri to initial four-year terms on the State Board of Agricultural Research and Education, effective July 1, 2015.

Further down the agenda the Board heard an updated mission statement for Williston State College. After a unanimous vote the new mission statement is “Williston State College: ‘Where the People Make the Difference,’ is to provide accessible, affordable, life-changing, and life-long educational pathways to residents of North Dakota, the Upper Plains, and beyond.”

The board also heard a Memorandum of Understanding that would allow police officers at the University of North Dakota to be designated as special customs agents by the Secretary of the Treasury and provide a limited expansion of the authority to work with that department. The Board unanimously approved the MOU.

Next up was another MOU from the UND Chief of Police that would allow the university to participate in a joint communications plan. It also received unanimous approval.

Following that came a topic of discussion delving into the termination of 13 North Dakota University System employees including eight attorneys, two legal support staff and three internal auditors. The action came after House Bill 1003 acted to limit funding for those positions. The bill was approved by the 64th Legislative Assembly and will go into effect July 1. At that time NDUS legal services will be provided by the Attorney General’s office.

The Board’s discussion revolved around notice of termination. Board policy states that if an employee is terminated without cause then they are provided 3-12 months’ notice. The Board deferred to legal counsel on the proper way to move forward, and ultimately approve, a motion to declare “financial exigency” based on the Interim Chancellor’s recommendation to provide notice of termination to those 13 employees.

Later in the meeting came recommendations from the SBHE Academic and Student Affairs Committee from Chair Kari Reichert. Those recommendations included a request from UND for a new five-year B.S.- M.S. degree in Physics, the termination of the Physical Education Minor from North Dakota State University, the termination of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance with Major in Theatre Arts from UND, and those recommendations for tenure and provisional tenure. All were approved.

Recommendations from the SBHE Budget and Finance Committee were brought forward next by Chair Morton regarding: authorize issuance of Minot State University Facilities Revenue Refunding Bonds, authorize NDSU to proceed with the construction of the Wallman Wellness Center Aquatics Addition project, authorize NDSU to proceed with the renovation of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Building, authorize NDSU to proceed with the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Family Life Center Footing Stabilization project, authorize NDUS to proceed with the Memorial Union Dining Center and Upper Floor Fit Up project, authorize an increase for the NDSU AES Research Greenhouse, authorize NDSU to proceed with the construction of campus-wide retention pond, authorize NDSU to proceed with the Library Entryway/Circulation/Deferred Maintenance Renovation project, and approve a proposed change to the Investment Policy Statement that would change staff membership on the Retirement Plan Oversight Committee. All were approved.

In other business the board heard the Chair’s report, Interim Chancellor’s report, legislative update, institutional reports, Council of College Faculties report, and Staff Senate report.

Additionally the Board held first readings of Policies 806.3 (moving expenses), 918 (alcoholic beverages), 820.1 (employee tuition waivers), and 907 (building plaques). The Board also held the second reading of Policy 840 (contracts).

The next regular Board meeting will take place Thursday, May 14. A Board meeting and retreat is scheduled to take place June 24-25.