Board talks budget guidelines, faculty leave

May 17, 2017


With the 65th Legislative Session adjourned, the regular May meeting of the State Board of Higher Education had a natural point of discussion: 2017-18 budget guidelines.

North Dakota University System Chief Financial Officer Tammy Dolan presented the topic, noting that the Board would need to approve the guidelines, and the individual institutions would submit their budgets to the system office next month. Dolan briefed the Board on the guidelines, which included components such as salary guidelines, strategic investments and more.

While the legislature had not allowed for general salary increases due to budget decreases, campuses held discretion to make salary adjustments in the case of restructured job requirements. Another component of the guidelines – strategic investments – would include how campuses carry out their missions to increase student success. Other budget components included deferred maintenance, and tuition increases, the latter being legislatively capped in most cases by four percent.

“That’s one of the biggest things that I’d like to explain,” Dolan said. “The legislature provided us with additional flexibility this year.”

Dolan noted that the campuses were taking steps to implement that flexibility in different ways, such as implementing different rate increases for resident tuition, non-resident undergraduate tuition, and professional and graduate tuition rates. Any changes to the fee structure due to implementation model would need Board approval at a future meeting. After brief discussion, the Board unanimously approved the guidelines.

During policy readings, the Board held the first reading of policy 410 (responsible conduct of research); and the second readings of policy 340.2 (foundations), 305.1 (college and university presidents’ authority and responsibilities), 505 (international student health insurance), and 607.5 (faculty leave).

Faculty leave again heard considerable discussion. Proposed SBHE Policy 607.5 is a non-accrual sick leave program for faculty, which also provides for family and parental sick leave. Compliance Officer Karol Riedman and Board Member Nick Hacker led discussion on the topic, which had generated a wealth of feedback from the campuses beginning in November. Four amendments were proposed by Hacker, and were approved by the Board. The amendments gave institutions authority to determine the distinction between short-term and long-term sick leave, to require medical certification for long-term sick leave, to expand the definition of family members for whose care faculty members may take sick leave, and, if two legal parents of a child are employed by an NDUS institution, the amount of paid parental leave is limited to 6 weeks for one parent and 2 weeks for the other. After additional discussion, the Board voted to table the proposed policy in order to gather additional information.

The Board then entered into executive session to discuss the Biesiot Activity Center litigation. After reconvening, the Board voted to authorize the system to sign the settlement agreement as proposed.

Chief of Staff Lisa Feldner provided a legislative update to the Board that included details on HB 1004, relating to auditors assigned to the system; HB 1030, relating to capital improvement request procedures; HB 1037, relating to course codes; HB 1221, relating to confidential informants; 1279, relating to firearms on campus; 1345, relating to open records; SB 2003, relating to Challenge Grants; 2152, relating to employment records; and more.

The Board heard and approved recommendations from the Academic and Student Affairs Committee. Those recommendations included the creation of the Institute for Unmanned and Autonomous Research at University of North Dakota; the creation of a minor in law and legal studies, a minor in offenders, risk assessment and corrections, and a minor in police management and investigations, all at Minot State University; and a minor in reliability engineering at North Dakota State University; graduate certificates in cybersecurity at MiSU, NDSU and UND. Additionally, the transportation and logistics department was created at NDSU, and multiple programs at Dickinson State University were terminated. They included art education minor, choral music minor, communication education minor, English education minor, instrumental music education minor, Spanish education minor, theatre education minor, mathematics education minor, and computer science education minor. Two NDSU programs – a minor in health communication and a BA/BS in health communication – were also terminated.

Additionally, the Board heard and approved budget requests including an authorization for Bismarck State College to use excess funds for a roofing replacement project; a recommendation to approve Mayville State University to proceed with renovations to Agassiz Hall; a recommendation for MaSU to move forward with other campus renovations; a recommendation approving the sale of NDSU housing and auxiliary facility revenue bonds; a recommendation authorizing NDSU to proceed with construction of the New Residence Hall; and a recommendation authorizing NDSU to move forward with a fundraising campaign for the Carrington Research Extension Center seed cleaning facility.

In other Board business, Don Morton was nominated and approved as Board Chair, Greg Stemen was nominated and approved as Vice Chair. The Board heard reports from North Dakota Student Association representative Kaleb Dschaak, Staff Senate representative Andy Wakeford and Council of College Faculty representative Eric Murphy. The Board also approved CFO Tammy Dolan as the system office designee to approve Theodore Roosevelt Library expenditures. Additionally, the Board reviewed the process for self-evaluation and assessments.

The next regular meeting of the Board is scheduled for June 27 at Bismarck State College.