The state Board of Higher Education has delayed a decision until its December meeting on a plan by the North Dakota College of Science to expand its Fargo campus.
NDSCS officials say a growth in demand for certificates and two-year degrees in certain areas means a need for more space in Fargo. The plan as presented would be for the college’s foundation to begin a fundraising campaign, and to work with K-12 schools and industry to raise $46 million. The building would be owned by the Foundation or a consortium outside the college proper, and maintenance would be the owners’ responsibility, and not the state.
"This is about collaboration," NDSCS President John Richman told the Board. "We're creating an academy where multiple K-12 districts, and multiple two year colleges, are partnering with business and industry, to provide career pathways from high school to associate degrees, to the workforce and beyond.
Richman said he wanted to be allowed to open the door.
"Trust me," Richman said. "Let us begin those discussions."
Several board members called the plan “innovative” — since there will likely be a tight state budget, and it’s unlikely state legislators will approve higher-ed building projects.
"We need to provide the programs when and where people need them," said Board member Kari Reichert. "We need to be in Fargo."
Board member Greg Stemen said while he likes the concept, he’s heard some concerns.
"One of the thing was, a lack of trust sometimes, that when we say we're not asking for any state funding at all, we come back later and ask," Stemen said. "That's something we have to trust won't happen."
Some Board members suggested a “Memorandum of Understanding” be drafted and presented to state lawmakers – spelling out who would be responsible for building maintenance. But because two board members weren’t present for the discussion, the matter was tabled until next month.