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Board of Higher Education tightening policy concerning foundations

ND University System

Credit ND University System
Board of Higher Education president Kathleen Neset.

The state Board of Higher Education is tightening up its policy on the relationships between a college or university and its foundation – or other non-profit affiliate.

The new rules say the campus president must be an ex-officio non-voting member of the organization’s board.

This comes about because of litigation surrounding the activity center at Dickinson State University. The DSU Foundation financed the center – but it dissolved in 2015, and five banks have sued, looking for repayment of loans.

"Obviously, there was a disconnect," said Board of Higher Education president Kathleen Neset. "My main concern: How do we prevent this from happening again?"

Board member Nick Hacker said this policy change is a great improvement that allows for some independence.

"But when it comes to liability, or brand damage of our institutions,  based on the actions of a foundation, it's vitally important that the presidents at least have some vision into the operations of those foundations, when the foundation carries the name," Hacker said.

Neset said this should allow a lot more transparency.

"It really streamlines it, and opens up communications," Neset said. "It gives more oversight to the campuses."

The 2017 Legislature appropriated $3.1 million to repay any outstanding debt for the activities center.

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