The State Board of Higher Education met this week for some basic housekeeping items after closing out a presidential search at Mayville State University.
After taking much of the morning and early afternoon in open interviews and executive session deliberations, the Board named Dr. Brian Van Horn as the new MaSU president. He will serve in the leadership position currently held by President Gary Hagen, who has served the university nearly four decades and announced his retirement last year.
After closing out the presidential search, the Board dug into policy readings for numerous issues. First on the agenda was a second reading of Policy 607.5 (faculty leave). The change had first been proposed after legislative guidance had called for reconciliation of numerous data inconsistencies throughout the university system, prompting review of individual policies and the creation of a systemwide, standardized plan. The policy reading had been tabled at the previous Board meeting pending further review by the Chancellor’s Cabinet. Due to limited time for additional faculty feedback, the Board opted to revisit the policy at a later meeting.
Additionally, the Board held several first readings, including for Policies 330 (policy introduction), 1202.2 (NDUS incident response), 804 (equipment and personal property leases), 803.4 (purchasing cards), 805.1 (tuition), 805.1.4 (negotiated course or program fees), 805.2 (Student activity fees), 805.3.1 (distance learning courses), 820 (waivers and tuition assistance), and 830.2 (refunds). All first readings found unanimous approval.
In other Board business, Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Richard Rothaus presented on two topics: honorary degrees and out-of-state authorizations. Three honorary degrees had been requested, one by North Dakota State University to award a Doctor of Humane Letters to John R. Clay II, and two from University of North Dakota for Si and Betty Robin. All three were approved. Rothaus then presented on state authorizations for Embry Riddle Aeronautical and Park University, both which catered to servicemembers stationed at air bases in the state. The third authorization was from Western University of Health Sciences to offer a doctor of nurse practitioner program, with delivery both online and at University of Jamestown.
Board member Nick Hacker brought forward recommendations from the Budget and Finance Committee. In addition to touching on the annual budget guidelines, the agenda included requests from North Dakota State University to proceed with a softball complex, to proceed with Sudro Hall additions and to proceed with a partial underground steam tunnel replacement. One other request from University of North Dakota sought authorization for the adoption of a resolution seeking refinancing for bonds and for a lease agreement between UND and its School of Medicine Family Practice in Minot. All requests were approved.
Board member Kathleen Neset then brought forward a recommendation from the Board’s Governance Committee, which entailed Board development.
The Board then heard brief reports from Chief Information Officer Darin King, Council of College Faculty President Debora Dragseth, and Staff Senate President Retha Mattern. King provided an update regarding the systemwide implementation of Blackboard learning management system. Dragseth noted that her group was looking forward to a staff and faculty summit next month in Bismarck, among other things. Mattern touched on a staff letter that had been recently sent, which addressed the need for the system to be mindful toward staff salaries and how negatively they would be affected by having to pay their own insurance.
Rep. Marvin Nelson spoke to the Board during public comment, touching on concerns he had with an educational agreement that Bismarck State College had entered into with Saudi Arabia. Nelson said he had an issue with how an institution of North Dakota’s higher education system was apparently entering into an agreement that would be discriminatory toward women. Bismarck State College President Larry Skogen responded by noting that the agreement constituted a rare opportunity to deliver education to people in that country, and would benefit both them and BSC. Skogen noted that BSC’s involvement had begun after responding to an international request for program, and the agreement was not yet finalized. He added that both the Board and attorney general’s office had been involved along the way to ensure the strictest standards were kept.
The next SBHE meeting is scheduled for April 26 and will be held via Interactive Video Network.