Regular Board meeting includes wealth of topics
The State Board of Higher Education covered extensive territory this week when it met at Valley City State University for a combined meeting that served as the finale for the VCSU presidential search, and the Board’s regular September update. After a morning spent interviewing the finalists in the search, the Board delved into territory ranging from self-governance to consensus-building, strategy, legislation and cybersecurity throughout North Dakota University System.
Vice Chancellor of Strategy and Strategic Engagement Phil Wisecup provided updates to the Board concerning Envision 2030, as well as how the digital “Dashboards” program would help the Board move forward on one of its strategic goals – namely, on research excellence and innovation. The Dashboards have existed for some time, providing near real-time, public-facing data on the Board’s other goals have been populated with initial data from research initiatives to reflect research in progress.
Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs and Chief Financial Officer Tammy Dolan provided an update to the Board on ongoing preparations that were underway for the upcoming legislative session. Dolan noted that certain processes had been updated within system office, including a legislative tracking document and the office’s template for testimony. She noted that having these standardized formats would help keep actions and feedback consistent throughout the four-month session.
Dolan said additionally, senior staff met each week with the presidents to determine which potential legislation would require testimony, and if so, from which subject matter expert on staff. She stated that senior staff would continue to work with the Board chair on what work would be happening in regard to legislative session. She added that the higher education appropriations bill in this session would begin with the House of Representatives, with House Bill 1003.
Board member Kathleen Neset led the discussion on Board governance, which touched on wide-ranging conversations on the committee structures and Board self-evaluation. The first topic, on Initiated Statutory Measure #3. Board Chair Don Morton noted that Board members could not state individual perspectives on any ballot measures. After an initial motion to table the discussion was overturned, the Board briefly heard the update.
Legal Counsel Chris Pieske noted that state law prevented the Board, and its members serving in an official capacity, from commenting in regard to any upcoming vote. Traynor revisited his previous comment, noting that the Board should be cautioned not to hear from just one side. Director of Student Affairs Katie Fitzsimmons said that if Measure 3 passed, marijuana use would still be prohibited on campuses because of federal funding policy requirements.
Chief Information Officer Darin King provided an update on information technology integration, touching on digital initiatives, cybersecurity and Blackboard. King noted that Core Technology Services was working diligently to maintain and improve security features throughout university system, including a rollout of multi-factor authentication, identity management and as examples.
Hagerott provided details on a possible committee structure, noting that the Board structure could be revisited, by college and university tier. That would effectively create three tiers of Board expertise, one for community colleges, one for regional four-year universities, and one for research universities.
Morton brought forward an approval recommendation for Hagerott’s goals for the 2018-19 academic year. After being accepted, the Board discussed several other items, including a review of a proposal for the Theodore Roosevelt Library Lease termination, approved a request for Bismarck State College to develop structures necessary to pursue the possibility of becoming a Polytechnic Institution, and approved a request to designate North Dakota State University as the lead for cybersecurity. Hagerott also informed the board that Dickinson State University would begin efforts on dual mission work.
Dolan and Board member Nick Hacker brought forward business from the Board’s Budget and Finance committee, including a recommendation for UND to pave the gravel parking lot located west of the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center; a request for UND to begin a formal fundraising campaign for renovations; a request to retroactively approve increasing the 2019-21 budget request for the Academic and Career & Technical Education Scholarship program by $2.9 million; and a 2019-21 Budget Request modifications for SBARE entities (NDSU Extension, Main Research Center and branch Research Extension Centers) and the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI). All were approved.
Johnson and Morton brought forward the Board Academic and Student Affairs Committee business, which included recommendations for new programs, including an A.A.S. in Sport and Recreation Management at Williston State College; an Associate of Arts (Liberal Arts Transfer) at Mayville State University; and an Associate of Arts at Valley City State University. The business also included several program terminations at Minot State University, including a B.A. in Economics, a B.A.S. in Applied Management, a B.A. in Studies in the Community and Environment, a B.S.Ed. in Physical Science Education, a M.A.T. in English Education, and a Physical Science Minor.
The Board heard other reports during the meeting from NDUS constituent groups. North Dakota Student Association President Jared Melville reported that the NDSA held its first meeting of the year and discussed priorities and its strategic plan. Council of College Faculty President Debora Dragseth provided a report that noted how CCF had voted in new officers and it looked forward to working with NDUS to serve students throughout the coming academic year. New Staff Senate President Cole Krueger reported that NDSA was monitoring relevant legislation, and was working together to find consensus across emerging issues.
Turtle Mountain Community College President Jim Davis spoke to the Board during the meeting as well, after the Board had extended an invitation to the state’s tribal college presidents to attend Board meetings. Davis noted that future discussions could help the university system and tribal colleges address shared concerns that affected student populations, and offered TMCC as a potential site for a future Board meeting.
In other business, the Board voted to approve the contract for North Dakota State College of Science President John Richman, held the first reading of Policy 605.1, which dealt with academic freedom and tenure, spoke about Board self-evaluations, audit reports, approved an honorary doctoral degree for Spencer Duin, and set the next two Board meetings for October 25 via Interactive Video Network, and December 6 at Bismarck State College.