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Board of Higher Education discusses staff retention and student affordability at its retreat

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Dave Thompson
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Board of Higher Education retreat at BSC

Affordability for students and retaining faculty and staff were top-of-mind issues at the state Board of Higher Education’s annual retreat.

It was held at Bismarck State College.

A committee tasked with looking at the upcoming biennium is proposing increases in base funding, as well as one-time bonuses for staff, and the creation of a “higher education stabilization fund,” similar to the K-12 Stabilization Fund.

North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott had earlier suggested a stabilization fund. He told the Board having funding certainty will help recruit and retain faculty and staff.

"If they think they're coming to an unstable funding environment, they don't want to come and they don't want to start," Hagerott said. "This isn't just to line someone's pockets — it's to give predictability in a state that's dependent on oil and agriculture."

Hagerott said right now, crop and oil prices are good. But he said recessions can come — and things can go sour.

A committee chairded by Board member Tim Mihalick came up with some "preliminary recommendations" — which include a one-time seven percent bonus for University System faculty and staff, as well as the K-12 Stabilization Fund.

"We've got to be aggressive, because it's a competitive world," Mihalick said. "And we have to figure out how to keep our students, faculty and staff. It's as simple as that — and we have to work on it."

Mihalick and Hagerott are hoping Gov. Doug Burgum will be open to proposals to be included in the executive budget for the 2023 Legislative session.

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