Legislative agendas high on SBHE discussion
Among the many topics discussed at the most recent State Board of Higher Education meeting were guns on campuses and a study on the reorganization of two-year campuses to gain efficiencies and provide a more seamless transition from K-12 to higher education.
Early in the meeting the Board reviewed Policy 916.1, relating to the possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon in a campus residence. Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs Richard Rothaus briefed the Board on the content of a bill by N.D. Legislature, which would go into effect immediately if passed. That bill would allow firearms to be stored in certain areas on campuses, but left discretion to authorize such activity to the Board. He noted that Policy 916.1 would name the Board as the only governing body that could allow an individual to store a firearm or dangerous weapon in a campus residence.
Discussion commenced on whether or not there was precedent or related policy, and if the Board could delegate its authority on the matter to campus presidents. The Board voted unanimously to hold the first reading and waive the second. Later in the meeting, the Board voted to amend the approved policy to add campus presidents to the decision-making process.
House Majority Leader Rep. Al Carlson spoke to the Board about the relationship between it and the Legislature, noting that it had improved much from certain times in the past. Carlson noted that there were common goals the two governing bodies shared, and that it was important to discuss them more in the future.
He said the economic outlook was “tough.” He said that in the future it would be important to include more university economists in the budget forecast. The Legislature is still meeting to balance the 2017-19 budget given the new economic forecasts.
During his presentation, Carlson said he was a proponent of the three-tiered system but he felt the model of higher education was changing. Carlson spoke directly to an amendment that had been proposed for Senate Bill 2003. The amendment would insert new language into the bill that called for a Board study of the reorganization of two-year institutions, and provide $40,000 for that study.
He said that “a reorganization of the two-year institutions under the SBHE, moving them toward a consolidated two-year system,” could include a common course catalogue, K-12 partnerships and a career and technical education focus. Carlson added that the end result of the consolidation would be a stronger workforce and centralization of services. He said the state needs “efficiencies, consolidation, and results.”
Board Chair Kathy Neset echoed Carlson’s earlier statements on how N.D. produced the best workers, noting that it was because the system already had some of the best students in the nation. Members of the Board discussed the proposed amendment and its merits, ultimately moving to accept it.
Eric Wallace then presented the report as prepared by firms L.R. Kimball and ComTech. The report covered a timeframe from October to November of last year as the firms conducted assessments of vulnerability to networks associated with the university system, including active phishing attempts made by the companies toward employees. Wallace gave a detailed presentation on how the firms collected information and sought vulnerabilities with penetration testing.
He said the security over the past year had increased substantially, with vulnerabilities decreasing by more than 19 percent from the last assessment in 2015, although new vulnerabilities were found. Report findings included that certain systems needed patches or upgrades, a handful of unsupported operating systems were in use, and some credentials weren’t in line with NDUS password management requirement.
Ongoing board business
Rothaus presented two honorary degree proposals to the Board. He noted that the first came from Dakota College at Bottineau for an Honorary Associate of Arts degree to former Senator David O’Connell, who represented the district, and had been instrumental in aiding the college’s long-term needs for its mission. The second was from NDSU for an Honorary Doctorate of Agriculture for Dr. H. Roald Lund, who had a distinguished role in agriculture history throughout the state. Both honorary degrees found unanimous approval.
MiSU President Steve Shirley presented next on a proposed transfer of real property by MiSU to the N.D. Department of Transportation. Shirley said the transfer was due to a road-widening and straightening project in the area that affected a small piece of property that had been gifted to the university but had no strategic use for it. The Board voted to allow the transfer.
Board Member Greg Stemen then presented recommendations from the Budget and Finance Committee, which included a recommendation for NDSU to proceed with a fundraising campaign; a recommendation authorizing NDSU to proceed with the residence dining center phase 2; a recommendation authorizing NDSU to proceed with procurement of seed cleaning equipment; a recommendation authorizing DSU to proceed with May Hall mechanical recommendations; and a recommendation authorizing DSU to proceed with Wood’s Hall repairs. All recommendations were approved.
Chief Financial Officer Tammy Dolan then spoke to the Board on campus assessments regarding an economic impact study, the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, and annual accounting training. The economic impact study cost $17,613 and is conducted every other year to study the impact of institutions on their local economy. CUPA HR cost $16,461 and provides campuses with current salary market survey information used in salary administration. The accounting training cost $12,000 and provides annual face-to-face training to NDUS controllers and accountants. All assessment recommendations were approved.
Board Vice Chair Don Morton presented recommendations from the Academic and Student Affairs Committee, which included the creation of two certificates at BSC, for critical care/flight, and community paramedic; and one minor in electrical engineering from UND. All three recommendations were approved.
Board Member Mike Ness provided an update on the Governance Committee, including a proposed two-year campus study. Ness said that the committee had talked about Board training, including full Board or individual training. He said the committee also spoke about looking into changes in how and when the president and chancellor evaluations were conducted.
Rothaus and Ryan Jockers then continued presenting on the strategic plan and Dashboards, following up on a presentation that had been given to the Board at the previous month’s meeting. Rothaus spoke on the third of four SBHE goals, “Equip students for success.” The ongoing presentations allow the Board time to reflect on current definitions and metrics in the lead-up to its annual strategic retreat in June.
Chancellor Mark Hagerott provided a brief update to each of the cabinet studies being conducted, the overall progress of the Envision 2030 initiative and NexusND-related news. Laura Schratt spoke to the Board about enterprise risk management, a process that aids auditing. Chief of Staff Lisa Feldner provided an update on education-related bills being reviewed by the legislature. Council of College Faculty President Eric Murphy, N.D. Student Association NDSU Delegate Jacob Dailey, and Staff Senate Member Andy Wakeford all provided updates concerning their organizations.
The next meeting is scheduled for April 27 via Interactive Video Network.