Pitch made for more funding for the state’s research universities

Dean Bresciani, the president of North Dakota State University, and Robert Kelley, president of the University of North Dakota, made a pitch for more funding for the state’s research universities Tuesday when they spoke before the Higher Education Funding Committee.

Bresciani and Kelley, who were meeting at Minot State University, spoke about the value to the state of the research done at NDSU and UND, both in terms of projects and in the number of students who remain in the state or just across the border in Minnesota when they graduate. Both universities operate through a combination of state and federal funding, student tuition and grants and endowments. Federal funding has fallen off somewhat in recent years due to the national economy, which might have a negative impact on recruitment of students and professors.

Bresciani said the age of some buildings at North Dakota State University are between 20 and 50 years old, with some buildings over 50 years old.

Bresciani and Kelley mentioned a permanent university fund in Texas, paid for with dollars from the oil industry, that is used for capital construction and renovation. Other large institutions also provide endowments for professorships.

After hearing the report, a committee member said he wants to review a deal approved by the State Board of Higher Education that enables North Dakota State University to absorb the Sanford College of Nursing in Bismarck. Under the deal, according to The Fargo Forum, NDSU will pay Sanford Bismarck $1 per year for the first three years. In the fourth year of the deal, state funds will be needed to support the program. About 79 percent of the $5 million will come from tuition and the remaining 21 percent from the state’s general fund, according to The Forum.

Also at the committee meeting, board members heard a report from Lisa Feldner, vice chancellor for information technology and institutional research, on a breech of the university system’s computer server. Feldner said affected parties have been notified and the university system also notified law enforcement and government and university officials. The university system is reviewing its security and operations and will do some restructuring to better secure data. Feldner said it doesn’t appear that the hackers accessed system files. They may have been using the university system server as a “gateway to go to other places.”

Feldner said there was relatively little concern from the public. The office received about 297 calls the first day and now is down to one call per day. People may have reacted to the security breech by thinking it was just another in a string of similar incidents in the last few months, she said.