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Ryan Johnson, Published June 26 2012

Higher ed board’s newest student member to tackle university system funding model

FARGO – The new student representative on North Dakota’s Board of Higher Education said reforming the state’s funding model for its 11 public colleges and universities will be the biggest issue for his one-year term.

Sydney Hull, a Fargo native now in his senior year majoring in history and political science at North Dakota State University, said the funding issue is what made him want to be on the board.

“I really think that’s something that needs to be addressed because a lot of institutions are not receiving equitable funding for what they’re providing to the state,” he said.

Hull said Gov. Jack Dalrymple has advisory groups studying the options. One possibility is to look at total student credit hours to determine each school’s productivity, he said. Another idea is an equitable funding model with a “small sliver” of performance-based funding for the 11 schools in the North Dakota University System.

He will serve on the board during a legislative year – lawmakers will gather for the 2013 session next January – and he said he will lobby on behalf of students across the state.

Hull was appointed to the nine-member board earlier this month by Dalrymple, who chose him from three student finalists.

He previously was an off-campus student senator at NDSU for two years and now works as a Web developer and administrative assistant at K&K Metal Recycling in Fargo.

Hull said he will need to go through a “shift in philosophy” to represent students at all schools, not just the NDSU campus.

“Now I need to kind of transcend that NDSU mentality and realize I’m representing everyone from across the state, so that really has to be taken into account,” he said.

Hull said he plans to get acquainted with the administrators who lead the state’s public colleges and universities before the start of his term July 1. He also will attend North Dakota Student Association meetings to keep up with the needs of each school.

With some lawmakers and residents calling for a reform of North Dakota’s higher education system and the role of the Board of Higher Education, Hull said the group should continue to make the case for the state’s public institutions.

“There will always be people that don’t see the value in higher education, and that’s something that we need to get our ducks in a row so we can show how important higher education is to North Dakota.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587