Higher Ed Board

State Board of Higher Education chair Kathy Neset, left, and vice chair Don Morton, center, with state university system chancellor Mark Hagerott, listen to a discussion on tabling the issue of North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani's contract in 2016.

Given the tight state budget and recent cuts sustained in higher education, North Dakota University System officials say requests for 4 percent tuition increases at the state’s 11 colleges and universities for undergraduates were not unexpected.

SHBE Chair Kathleen Neset, chair of the State Board of Higher Education which met on Monday, said the 4 percent tuition increases, the maximum allowed for in the budget approved by the Legislature, were a fair outcome of this year's budget-slashing session.

“This was a very difficult legislative session. We took very significant hits,” Neset said. “We still are in a relatively good position. I do believe the Legislature handled it very well.”

Other tuition changes included a 9 percent increase for the law school at University of North Dakota and a 5 percent increase for the pharmacy program at North Dakota State University. 

“I do think they were very well thought out,” Neset said of the increases to graduate programs, which were not capped in any legislation.

NDUS Chief Financial Officer Tammy Dolan said one budget guideline for 2017-18 was not having a general salary increase for employees, in line with other state agencies. Campus presidents, instead, would have the flexibility to make individual adjustments, but any changes will have to be reported in budget documents. College presidents have until June 19 to turn in their budget proposals to the NDUS chancellor.

Carryover dollars from the 2015-17 biennium and their use also must be reported, as well as any investments made on campus toward meeting goals in the university system’s five-year strategic plan.

Dolan said the higher rates for the various professional and graduate programs were thoroughly reviewed by the board’s budget and finance committee and were done in order to keep the programs competitive.

Later in the meeting, members, who approved the budget guidelines unanimously, elected a new chair and vice-chair to one-year terms in their respective roles effective July 1.

Vice-chair Don Morton was unanimously selected as the new board chair, with board member Greg Stemen being tapped for the vice-chair role.

(Reach Nick Smith at 701-250-8255 or 701-223-8482 or at nick.smith@bismarcktribune.com.)