Among the largest updates heard by the State Board of Higher Education this week was one that provided an in-depth look into the past two years of the Envision 2030 process.
Through much of the morning session, Chancellor Mark Hagerott provided details on the consensus-building effort of the initiative, which ranged in methods from formal research to informal discussions to listening sessions and two spring summits. Following those numerous conversations, Hagerott noted, system staff began to integrate the findings into one upcoming report.
Hagerott utilized an extensive presentation during the Board meeting to provide context to the “hows” and “whys” of the current round of Envision recommendations, which he noted could help shape strategy moving forward as a complement to the ongoing efforts by the presidents, and the upcoming findings of the Senate Bill 2003 task forces.
Following his brief, Hagerott turned the facilitation of the Envision discussion over to Carrie Herrig, from University of North Dakota. Herrig provided guidance to the Board as members walked through the Envision recommendations. Herrig said she would be introducing six challenging questions to provoke calls-to-action based on some of the recommendations made.
Those questions were:
- For the medium to long term how do we ensure that higher education receives adequate funding. What is holding us back from getting the resources we need?
- What is holding back widespread support for building stronger efficiencies in higher education?
- What is holding back widespread support for providing anytime access to key programs within our institutions of higher education?
- What is holding back the establishment of strong partnerships and collaborations with our diverse population within higher education? How do we ensure these diverse populations feel supported and recognized during our time of advocacy?
- How do we find a way forward as we look to reconcile the presence of Big Data and networks, with the need to balance privacy?
- For the medium and long term, how do we ensure our faculty and staff receive adequate pay and benefits? What is holding us back from getting the resources they need?
Each question prompted dynamic responses from the Board members, presidents, and at times, members of the public. The responses will help shape the next Envision briefing and how it in turn will affect the strategic plan, when the Board meets next month.
Following the Envision update, the Board delved into housekeeping items such as the nominations for board chair and vice chair, presidential evaluations, and updates on SB 2003. Morton and Stemen were named Chair and Vice Chair, respectively.
Conversation regarding the presidential evaluations began by reminding the Board of the staggered evaluation process it had adopted last year, which allowed for more intensive review of leadership at each tier – two-year colleges, four-year universities, and research universities.
On SB 2003, Human Resources Manager Jane Grinde spoke to some HR inconsistencies within the task force findings. Later, Interim Vice Chancellor for Strategy and Strategic Engagement James “Phil” Wisecup provided a more in-depth report as to the progress of the bill’s mandated task forces, which are due to issue their final reports later this year.
Board member Nick Hacker brought forward the consent agenda for the Board’s Budget and Finance Committee. That agenda included recommendations to authorize North Dakota State University to begin formal fundraising for the Richard H. Barry Hall Space renovation; for NDSU to proceed with the Van Es Mechanical Improvements project; for NDSU to begin fundraising for its campaigns regarding a new softball facility, indoor practice facility, and ag products development center; for NDSU to move forward with an expansion of the West Dining Center; for NDSU to increase the project authorization cost for the partial underground steam tunnel replacement project; for University of North Dakota to move ahead with renovation on the Chester Fritz Library; for UND to raise funds for construction of the High Performance Center; to approve the UND master plan; to approve the Minot State University program and enrollment-driven needs; and to approve a revision to the NDSU tuition model, which added one percent in order to maintain revenue neutrality. All were approved.
Chief Financial Officer Tammy Dolan spoke next to the Board concerning the 2019-2021 Budget request process. Dolan provided a timeline of the budget process, as well as noting where the appropriations have been for previous bienniums versus what current guidelines called for.
Board member Mike Ness brought forward the Board’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee’s consent agenda recommendations, which included special tenure requests; three new programs at NDSU including a Minor in Honors, Minor and Bachelor of Science in Precision Agriculture, and a Minor in Interior Design; as well as organizational changes at Mayville State University for a new academic division with the Division of Nursing; and a program termination at NDSU regarding its Bachelor of Arts and B.S. in Social Science. All were approved.
Ness brought forward the Board’s Governance Committee consent agenda, which focused on the chancellor’s evaluation. The process was detailed by Chief Compliance Officer Karol Riedman, who noted a survey would be sent out with results sent to the board chair next month.
In other business, the Board held the first reading of Policies 302.1 (Academic and Student Affairs), 302.3 (Budget and Finance), and 302.5 (Governance), which all dealt with its committees. Additionally, the Board held the second reading of Policy 1202.1 (Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources). All were approved. The Board also heard an update on the ground lease for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, although declined to take direct action on it. Additionally, the Board held an executive session to discuss Dr. Lisa Feldner’s complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Updates were also provided by Council of College Faculty President Debora Dragseth, and North Dakota State Staff Senate President Retha Mattern. Dragseth noted that CCF had endorsed the NDSSS letter on funding impacts, before moving into the topic of the CCF’s report card on the Board. Mattern’s update touched on staff work through the summer and how important it was to recognize their hard work throughout the year.
The next scheduled meeting will be the Board’s annual strategic retreat, which will be held June 27-28 at the Northern Great Plains Research Lab in Mandan.