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Forum News Service, Published February 27 2014

Interim ND chancellor apologizes for confusion in sale of UND research facility

GRAND FORKS - The interim chancellor of the North Dakota University System apologized Thursday for how the sale of a University of North Dakota research facility was handled.

Larry Skogen told State Board of Higher Education members that UND’s purchase of the Research, Enterprise and Commercialization building from the UND Research Foundation should have been conducted differently. The $9.8 million purchase has been scrutinized by state legislators to see if the sale followed the process spelled out in law.

“I apologize for any confusion or ill will this has caused the board, the Legislature, UND or the university system,” Skogen said. “The last thing I wanted to do was create any more controversy for the university system and I am sorry that I did.”

The apology comes after Skogen told Prairie Public Radio in January that “the state board had, in January 2013, delegated the authority to the chancellor to approve the process and any agreement UND came up with.”

“We have dotted all the ‘Is’ and crossed all the ‘Ts’ on that,” he said at the time.

But Skogen acknowledged Thursday that the Legislature passed a law in May that allows the state board to negotiate the sale. UND purchased the REAC facility from the UND Research Foundation in September, after Skogen authorized the financing arrangement.

“When I assumed this office in late June 2013, I was not aware that this transaction required special handling, a fact I learned on October 4, two weeks after the (the sale took place),” Skogen said.