Chancellor Mark Hagerott delivers a video message, offering a reflection on the 65th Legislative Session, the budget outlook and more.
Full transcript follows:
Greetings to staff, faculty, and students of the North Dakota University System! I’m Chancellor Mark Hagerott and today I’d like to talk about aspects of the 65th Legislative Session and reflect about the future of higher education in our state.
First and foremost, let us recognize that many people have lost their jobs. More than 400 positions have already been eliminated. We all are deeply pained by these actions, we are concerned for the individuals and families effected, and mindful of the campuses, which must continue to serve students after the loss of so many good people.
Secondly, I would like to thank the councils and task forces throughout the system that helped shape policy and provide feedback to the system office during the past five months. With the addition of your perspectives, system office staff were able to provide timely, in-depth testimony to the many legislative committees. This responsiveness helped us inform the work of the legislature and softened what in the past had been perceived as a somewhat adversarial relationship.
Our unique blend of cultures and missions from the 11 colleges and universities was on display during this session, and I witnessed presidents and staff regularly explain the situation at their respective campuses and departments. In order to limit how reduced revenues would impact student success, ongoing discussions at the capitol and campuses necessarily had to place all options on the table. Thankfully, some options that may have had radical consequences were not undertaken.
There was only so much funding to go around. All public service employees throughout the state watched as the budget projections shrank and nearly every agency was affected severely. I have already mentioned the difficult staff reductions. Other cuts impacted some student services, academic and athletic programs. All of these cuts were made to create the substantial savings had to be made in a distinctively short time frame, and I know the presidents have been pained by these decisions.
In the aftermath of the session, we know that campuses now will need to take steps to conform to the new budget. We have been consistently working on numerous fronts to aim to minimize the impact of these decreases. Your presidents are developing campus strategies that play to your respective strengths. My cabinet is conducting several studies to find systemwide improvements. The Envision 2030 effort is moving full-steam ahead with the help of Advisory Teams comprised of faculty, staff, and representatives from business, industry and other state agencies. As part of that effort we’re looking at what we’ve done, what we want to do, and what will be realistic in the future.
I’m confident that the projects and initiatives that we’ve undertaken, combined with local feedback and perspectives from the campuses, will help the university system move through this difficult financial stretch and continue the mission we all signed on for: equipping our students for success.
Thank you all for your continued hard work in helping to maintain the integrity of the North Dakota University System and its campuses. And, congratulations for helping this year’s seniors move toward their goal of graduating from one of our fine colleges and universities. The State Board of Higher Education and I can’t wait to join you during upcoming commencement ceremonies to celebrate that achievement with you.