Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published January 14 2011
Board of Higher Education neutral on bills seeking to retain Sioux nickname
During a conference call meeting Thursday, higher education board members also unanimously decided to provide legislators information about the process used to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname.
Board members said they would remain neutral on three bills introduced by legislators related to retaining the nickname at UND.
Board President Jon Backes said he preferred to allow legislators to work through their process.
“Let them have their debate,” said Backes, of Minot.
Board member Grant Shaft of Grand Forks was asked to provide legislators with a summary of the steps taken before members directed UND to begin retiring the nickname.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has said there are constitutional issues with the bills because the board has the constitutional authority to direct UND to retire the nickname.
Board member Michael Haugen of Fargo said he’s worried about unintended consequences for UND, its athletic teams and its Native American students.
UND President Robert Kelley said he plans to talk to the NCAA about the bills.
In other business:
- Board members voted 8-1 to revise their budget request for an information technology facility that will serve the whole system and be housed at UND.
Initially, board members asked for $17.6 million for the facility, which is the board’s top priority among building project requests. The governor included $11.2 million in his recommendation.
Board members directed further study of the facility and agreed Thursday to go back to legislators with a proposal that would cost $14.3 million.
Haugen was the sole opposing vote. He said he was concerned that the board didn’t look enough for cheaper alternatives.
- Board members unanimously decided to proceed with their request for
$10.8 million for a new science facility at Valley City State University.
That was the board’s initial request, and the governor proposed about $8 million.
Chancellor Bill Goetz said he feels strongly that the $8 million proposal would not provide the adequate classroom and laboratory space for VCSU. Enrollment in science-related majors increased 48 percent between fall 2009 and fall 2010 at VCSU.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590