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Christopher Bjorke, Forum Communications, Published July 25 2012

Dalrymple wants more transparent university funding

GRAND FORKS – Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he would like more transparency in institutions’ funding following audits that identified questionable uses of student fees by North Dakota colleges and universities.

“We have asked for and we have proposed that we improve the funding formula in general,” Dalrymple said during a meeting with the Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board on Wednesday.

He said higher education should pursue a clear cost-per-student formula that could be applied across the state’s institutions.

“You get equity, you get fairness amongst all 11 campuses, and you get transparency,” Dalrymple said. “What we have now is this cloudy fog based on long-ago history.”

Dalrymple was responding to questions about reports by the state auditor’s office documenting cases in which universities used fees collected from students to pay for iPads for UND employees and a recruiting trip to India by North Dakota State University, among other uses. The office called the uses inappropriate and said the university system lacks accountability in how the money, paid by students on top of tuition, is managed. The fees are meant to cover student services and costs of academic programs.

“In the end they’ve skimmed a little bit of money off of lots and lots of people,” Dalrymple said.

However, he is not ready to give his opinion on a proposal by university system Chancellor Hamid Shirvani to increase his office’s staff by 30 additional employees. He is waiting to discuss the idea with Shirvani in person.

“I have not met with Dr. Shirvani about his proposal,” he said. “It’s created quite a stir.”

Shirvani’s requested staff would increase the university system’s ability to monitor whether universities are following system policies.

Christopher Bjorke writes

for the Grand Forks Herald

Dalrymple questioned whether more oversight should come from the chancellor’s office or if it should be the responsibility of institution presidents, who have received increased funding to attract better qualified administrators.

“If we’re going to have those type of people run college campuses, how many layers do you need?” he said.

Dalrymple also said the state Board of Higher Education could refine their focus to deal with major policy issues and avoid taking on too many issues. The board has had three members step down this year, with some citing heavy workload among their reasons.

“I think they need to govern themselves a bit differently,” he said.


Christopher Bjorke writes for the Grand Forks Herald