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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published September 12 2010

Higher Education Notebook: Roundtable discusses higher education funding

How to fund higher education will be the topic of discussion Monday and Tuesday during a meeting of North Dakota’s Higher Education Roundtable.

The Legislature’s Higher Education Committee is meeting in Bismarck with members of the Roundtable, which includes private-sector representatives, college presidents and state Board of Higher Education members.

Members also will discuss measures of productivity and accountability for higher education.

Committee Chairman Bob Skarphol said there’s been discussion about changing the way North Dakota funds higher education, so he invited people to talk about other methods that have been successful.

Speakers include Richard Petrick, former vice chancellor of finance for the Ohio Board of Regents, and David Longanecker, president of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education.

Also, Mark Schneider, vice president for the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., will speak on measures of productivity for higher education in North Dakota.

The Higher Education Roundtable was established in 1999 with an emphasis on giving the North Dakota University System flexibility with accountability.

Skarphol, a Republican representative from Tioga, said he thinks the roundtable has served its purpose and perhaps it’s time for a new concept.

“I don’t want to micromanage higher education. That’s not my intent,” Skarphol said. “But I’m not willing to increase funding to do things the same old way.”

Sen. Dave Nething, R-Jamestown, one of the original roundtable members, said the concept has allowed universities to be successful and function as a system.

Some legislators question that there’s enough accountability from higher education, Nething said.

“Some of these things that have happened over at NDSU have not created a lot of confidence in the accountability,” Nething said.

However, Nething said he doesn’t think those issues are an argument against the roundtable because NDSU and the board have responded.

“The key is, lets figure out how to make sure it (the roundtable) works, not say it’s a failure,” Nething said.

VCSU deficiency request

Valley City (N.D.) State University is seeking a deficiency appropriation of nearly $59,000 for expenses related to the 2009 flood.

VCSU incurred $431,149 in flood-related expenses, according to information presented to the a committee of the state Board of Higher Education.

The university has received federal reimbursement of $334,834.

The university is seeking $41,361 for the 10 percent state share and $17,543 for costs that are not eligible for reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Those expenses were parking lot repairs and payroll expenses related to information technology staff who worked through the flood to keep the campus operational.

The state Board of Higher Education will consider the request on Thursday in Bottineau.

Best college towns

Fargo is included as one of the best places to live for college students in a ranking by the American Institute for Economic Research.

Fargo was listed No. 20 under cities with a population of less than 250,000.

Criteria included student concentration, research capacity, cost of living, arts and leisure, entrepreneurial activity and unemployment rates.

No. 1 in that population category was Ithaca, N.Y.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590 or adalrymple@forumcomm.com