Board renews contract, talks faculty sick leave, and hears NDSCS fundraising plan
Three substantial topics found detailed discussion when the State Board of Higher Education gathered at Bismarck State College this week for its regular meeting. One longstanding topic was resolved when a majority vote renewed the contract of North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani.
After extensive talks in executive session concluded, Board member Kevin Melicher moved to renew Bresciani’s contract, bringing its date in-line with the standard one-year extension timeframe. Board member Nick Hacker seconded. Faculty Advisor Ernst Pijning commented that given support of faculty, he urged the Board to approve the contract. Student member Nick Evans noted that NDSU students supported the contract renewal as well.
Board Chair Kathleen Neset commended the Board for working through the process with thoughtful comments and team work. She said the topic was serious and substantial, and the Board had handled it well through the exhaustive process. She felt it was the Board’s obligation to take on the task and review it fully, and thanked all who had offered perspective on the issue. Board Vice Chair Don Morton said he felt the process had moved forward respectfully. After discussion concluded, the Board voted to renew Bresciani’s contract.
Later, the Board discussed Faculty Sick Leave, under direction to become more consistent for the system due to legislative mandate to address data inconsistencies. Recently, Chancellor Mark Hagerott had recommended the topic be handled by a task force comprised of two representatives from each of the system’s 11 colleges and universities.
Hagerott said that Faculty Sick Leave was one of multiple data inconsistencies that the legislature had called on to clarify and correct. Since the process began in the summer of 2015, dozens of inconsistencies have been reviewed and resolved. Now, the task force was reviewing how this particular topic could move forward fairly and find a recommendation by the next Board meeting. Pijning noted that having the faculty involved was vital, considering that the task force was given the responsibility of reconciling policies from the 11 colleges and universities into one systemwide policy. He asked for clarification on what type of recommendation the Board was looking for, and if that recommendation could include multiple options.
Board member Mike Ness asked for clarification on the legislative intent related to the sick leave policy. Board member Kari Reichert stated that the legislative intent as she understood it was a need for a single, systemwide policy. NDUS Legal Counsel Nick Vaughn stated that his understanding was similar to Reichert’s, that the legislature, through House Bill 1003, was looking for one systemwide policy. No action was taken.
The Board also heard a plan from North Dakota State College of Science President John Richman on a proposed capital fundraising campaign to raise money to expand NDSCS’ Fargo campus. Board member Greg Stemen said that although guidance from the state had been to have no new buildings, Richman had been told that private fundraising and local community involvement could precipitate a way forward for any new construction.
Richman said the current facility was near-capacity for all population models that the college would serve. He said this new model would partner with multiple k-12 districts and private businesses in a long-term initiative to meet the needs of the next 20-30 years. He said it met the needs of the Board’s strategic plan, including providing programs when and where they were needed.
Discussion continued on the topic, touching on workforce needs and how the proposed fundraising plan could serve as a blueprint moving forward. The Board ultimately tabled any decision until its next meeting to allow for Board members to review the topic further.
The Board held first readings of Policy 608.2 (NDUS Employees – Non-renewal and Dismissals), Policy 611.10 (Employee Responsibility and Activities: Theft, Fraud, Abuse and Waste), and Policy HR 24 Reduction in Force), and the second readings of Policy 506.1 (Immunizations), Policy 508.1 (STEM Loan).
The Board approved the Budget, Finance, and Facilities Committee consent agenda, which included an authorization for NDSU to proceed with varied sundry projects funded from one-time deferred maintenance funding, an authorization transferring funds from NDSU’s maintenance pool to its capital assets, and authorization for NDSU to proceed with Dolve Hall partial renovation and HVAC update project. The Board also approved the Academic and Student Affairs Committee recommendations, which included a mission statement update for Mayville State University.
The next Board meeting is scheduled to be held Dec. 14.