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Politics & Government

Board of Higher Education tightening policy concerning foundations

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ND University System
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Credit ND University System
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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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