How long have you been with state government and what brought you here to NDUS?
I have worked for the state for 25 years. After graduating from Minot State University, I worked for the state auditor for two years. Next, I spent 14 years at Workforce Safety & Insurance focusing on the fiscal and administrative operations of the agency. It was while working as a fiscal analyst at OMB for the last nine years that I became interested in education issues, particularly higher education.
How do you plan on approaching your responsibilities within the position?
One day at a time. The position involves a broad range of fiscal and administrative areas. While I am quite familiar with the budgetary and fiscal issues, I still have a lot to learn. I intend to spend the first several weeks learning from the exceptional staff at the system office and within the 11 institutions.
You were described as instrumental in helping with the higher education funding formula. How will that knowledge base help in your new role?
Development of the funding formula was a cooperative effort between the campuses and Governor’s office. During that time, I developed close working relationships with the college presidents, vice presidents of finance, and the finance staff members, as well as the system office fiscal staff. I also gained a deeper understanding of the campuses’ fiscal operations, which will be critical for success in my new position.
Describe your leadership style.
I view every person as a key member of our higher education team. My goal is to empower staff to perform their jobs and make decisions, and then get out of the way. This requires providing the necessary training, tools, and operating policy/procedures structure to ensure each person can be successful. If that occurs, then the entire team will succeed.
What do you feel are some of your greatest accomplishments?
There are two items that I consider my biggest professional accomplishments. First, is having the higher education funding formula approved on the first attempt during the 2013 Legislative Assembly. This was a significant policy shift, and similar changes have taken two or more legislative sessions to be accepted. It took lots of hard work on the part of many, many people to achieve this success in one session.
Second was construction of the Workforce Safety & Insurance building on time and within budget. The agency experienced significant turnover in upper management during the planning and construction of the facility, which could have derailed the project. As an accountant with absolutely no facility experience, I am extremely proud have been the lead on this project. Plus, I got to have my very own hard hat, which was pretty cool.
What are the goals that you have while here?
My focus is on building relationships. I want to strengthen the relationship between the system office and institutions. Additionally, I want to help build the trust and faith with the legislature and general public.
What do you feel are your greatest strengths and experiences that you bring to this role?
During the last 25 years, I have had the opportunity to work with nearly 50 different state agencies as either an employee or as an OMB Fiscal Analyst. At OMB I was part of a team that assisted the Governor in developing the statewide biennial operating budget and supported the recommendation throughout the legislative process. As a result, I worked closely with both the House and Senate Appropriations committees. From these experiences, I gained a breadth of knowledge in many operational areas that I believe will allow me to make more impactful and well-thought-out decisions in my new NDUS role.
What are you most excited about?
Everything! I am excited, and grateful, for the opportunity to work with the entire NDUS team. I am especially looking forward to working with the Board and legislature in shaping the direction of the higher education system.
Are there any changes you aim to seek to implement?
I want to ensure the higher education budget is transparent to the legislature to help alleviate any concerns about lack of information. To that end, my goal is to include the complete budget, including all revenue sources, in the budgetary request. I also want to continue streamlining the financial aid processes and develop a strategic direction for future financial aid funding requests.