A major topic of discussion revolved around faculty leave when the State Board of Higher Education met for its regular April meeting.
The topic was one of a handful of first readings for newly proposed policy. Among those were policies 340.2 (foundations), 305.1 (college and university presidents’ authority and responsibilities for campus IT security), 505 (international student health insurance), and 607.5 (faculty leave). The latter had been the topic of considerable discussion since being initiated by legislative mandate for the 2015-17 biennium.
Compliance Officer Karol Riedman provided details of the updated policy to the Board, noting that numerous modifications had been made to it since the initial idea was brought forward as part of an initiative to reconcile data inconsistencies. She stated that starting in November, a task force had met regularly to consider details for the proposed policy change. Riedman stated that the new language called for a consistent non-accrual sick leave policy for faculty while preserving earned accrued leave. Additional terms included six weeks of paid dependent leave and up to 12 weeks per year of dependent leave.
Riedman said a few areas merited further discussion, including family and parental leave, as well as financial impacts. The task force was requesting direction from the Board so the policy could be adopted and implemented systemwide.
The following discussion touched on donating leave time, including definitions, and ensuring that faculty had basic minimum protections. After roughly an hour of discussion the Board approved the first reading.
Chancellor Mark Hagerott then provided the Board with an update on several ongoing topics of consideration from system office. First, he noted that no budget had been set by the time of the Board meeting, but was expected soon. Hagerott said that he’d met recently with faculty and staff groups throughout the system regarding several issues, including the budget.
As part of his report he provided some details on legislative news, progress under the Envision 2030 long-term strategy initiative, the Nexus ND technology initiative with emphasis on University of North Dakota’s new unmanned aerial center and how campuses would be taking part in that, and several cabinet studies on governance, research, and tuition policy.
Neset spoke on the campus study that had been created by the legislature. Neset detailed the guidelines for the study, which would begin at the June retreat and end one year later. She added that it would take shape with help from the Board members, the cabinet study findings, and perspectives from Envision 2030.
“We want to streamline efficiencies and shared services,” Neset said. “This is being done so that we can work to provide for the needs of the workforce in North Dakota. This is not unique to N.D,, other states are doing similar work. We’ll invite consulting experts into the state, and will be doing a launch of this study at our retreat in June in Bismarck.”
Next up for the Board was an updated lease between North Dakota State University and Sanford Health for the nursing program in Bismarck. After a brief explanation by NDUS legal counsel, the Board voted unanimously to approve it.
Hagerott and Strategic Planner Ryan Jockers then provided the Board with its third recent update regarding the strategic plan and the system office’s use of metric-tracking through the online Dashboards.
Director of Audit Services Laura Schratt provided an update next on enterprise risk management, which is meant to assess and prioritize risks to institutions within NDUS based on controls and resources. Schratt detailed the basic components of a continuous enterprise risk management cycle, including internal environment, objective setting, event identification, risk assessment, risk response, control activities, information and communication, and monitoring.
In other business the Board approved an SBARE nomination, approved recommendations from the Budget and Finance Committee relating to infrastructural needs at Lake Region State College and University of North Dakota, and recommendations from the Academic and Student Affairs Committee relating to new programs, organizational changes and program terminations. The Board also approved a list of faculty who were recommended for tenure throughout the system.
The next regular meeting is scheduled for May 15.