Tu-Uyen Tran, Forum Communications Co., Published January 20 2011
UND appeals to House panel for more fundingBISMARCK – University of North Dakota officials gave their budget presentation Wednesday before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, hoping to get more funding than recommended by the governor.
The State Board of Higher Education’s proposed budget for UND is $214.2 million. Gov. Jack Dalrymple requested $156.9 million. Much of Wednesday’s discussion was about the difference.
Criticism from the subcommittee included questioning whether the university system was as efficient as it could be and whether the state was subsidizing education for out-of-state students.
Rep. Bob Skarphol, R-Tioga, who chairs the Education and Environment Division, said he worried about the continually growing spending on higher education and felt the state ought to focus on the quality of education more than the quantity of it.
Between fiscal year 1999 and 2009, state funding for the university system grew by about 37.3 percent, for example.
UND President Bob Kelley said the university does have to work in a competitive market. Maintaining the quality of faculty, staff and facilities is important, he said.
He also noted that last year the university eliminated 12 courses that weren’t relevant anymore.
“I don’t know if I’m answering your question, Rep. Skarphol, but we worry about the same thing,” he said.
Here are a few of the big projects UND officials talked about Wednesday:
- A bigger budget for the information technology facility that would serve the university system but be based at UND. The state board wanted $17.6 million. The governor called for $11.2 million.
- Funding for more office and lab space at UND’s Energy and Environmental Research Center. Kelley said the institution, which gets most of its funding from competitive contracts and grants, needs the space to continue to grow.
The state board wanted $12.5 million, but the governor didn’t request any funding.
- Funding for what are known as “small to medium capital projects,” which the governor didn’t request. The top 3 for UND are improvements at Gillette Hall at $1 million, Starcher Hall at $1 million and Hughes Fine Arts Center at $800,000.
- Funding for new academic programs. There are 28 on UND’s wish list, but the top three that Provost Paul LeBel talked about are a doctorate in nursing practice program at $1.7 million, a petroleum engineering program at $1.1 million and a molecular biology program at $1.1 million.
None are requested by the governor, but the state board recommends them.
- Not up for discussion was a proposed expansion of UND’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The state board had requested $28.9 million for a physical addition to the school and $3.4 million initially to train more doctors, but the governor said it was just too much to ask the Legislature for.
Tran writes for the Grand Forks Herald