Board moves to keep salaries, tuition competitive

May 18, 2015

State Board of Higher Education Chairman Terry Hjelmstad listens as board members discussed salary and tuition increases at the monthly meeting in May.

State Board of Higher Education Chairman Terry Hjelmstad listened as board members discussed salary and tuition increases at the Board’s monthly meeting in May. Much of the agenda surrounded budget proposals.

The State Board of Higher Education worked toward keeping employees from throughout the university system fairly compensated at its regular meeting last week, despite some campuses having to operate within a lessened overall budget.

At its regular meeting for May, the Board recommended taking steps to find the money for those increases – three percent on average – as well as approving modest increases to colleges and universities throughout North Dakota. The Board also moved forward on a request from Williston State College regarding increased student fees.

Laura Glatt, vice chancellor for administrative affairs, provided the Board with the annual budget guidelines. Before doing so, Glatt gave background on the final 15-17 state budget noting that total NDUS base funding is up about 8.5 percent; however, she pointed out  funding differences among campuses, noting that some campuses will have less after funding salary, health insurance and utility cost increases. The guidelines included a recommendation to provide a minimum campus-wide average salary increase for faculty and staff of three-percent on July 1, 2015.

“It doesn’t mean it’s across the board that everyone gets three percent increase, some may get four percent and some may get two,” Glatt said. “On average it should be no less than three percent across the campus as a whole.”

She offered further insight, that as campuses  prepare their budgets they focus on investments aligning with goals from the Board’s strategic plan, such as delivering degrees that were the best value in the nation, providing programs people want, prepare students for success and maximize the strengths of a unified system.

The total 2015-17 general fund appropriation for 11 campuses, the school of medicine, and the system office and state financial aid programs is $895 million. With North Dakota State University agriculture research and extension added in, the total is approximately $1 billion. About one-third of that came from the state’s general fund. Under the guidelines, tuition increases had been capped by the legislature at 2.5 percent. All campuses, except three, required more than a 2.5 percent increase to adequately fund the “student share” of the funding formula; however, they will be capped at three percent. This will necessitate additional internal reallocation to cover the gap. Three institutions will have tuition increases less than 2.5 percent – Bismarck State College at 1.9 percent, Lake Region State College at two percent, and North Dakota State University at 2.4 percent.

Williston State College mandatory fee increases required SBHE approval since they exceeded the one percent statutory. The proposed increase of $708 in mandatory student fees would be largely offset by increased scholarship funding. The Board also heard from legal counsel after previously moving into executive session to discuss an update on litigation.

The update was on Minard Hall in connection with a potential settlement regarding the NDSU structure’s collapse in late 2009. The action taken by the Board was to authorize the NDSU legal counsel to resolve the litigation based on the settlement information provided during executive session.

In other business the Board held the first readings for policies 803.1 (purchasing) and 602.3 (employment background checks), as well as the second readings of policies 806.3 (moving expenses), 918 (alcoholic beverages), 820.1 (employee tuition waivers) and 907 (building plaques).

The next meeting will take place in line with the Board retreat scheduled for June 24 and 25.