North Dakota higher education board committee looking at contracts of college and university presidents

BISMARCK N.D.

North Dakota’s state Board of Higher Education is taking a look at the contracts of college and university presidents, with changes proposed in termination policies and foundation contributions.

The issue has come into focus as the board seeks new presidents for the University of North Dakota, Dickinson State and Lake Region State College.

Changes proposed by a committee of the higher education board would better protect the public interest if a president resigns or is fired, said John Q. Paulsen, a committee member and president of the board.

“We’ve had experience in recent years with presidents and chancellors who have left, and the system has been left with significant severance payments,” Paulsen said.

The university system paid former Chancellor Robert Potts and former North Dakota State College of Science President Sharon Hart more than $450,000 after they resigned last year.

Both had three-year rolling contracts that were automatically renewed after a year.

The committee proposes three-year fixed contracts. The board would notify the president at the end of the second year about the decision to renew the president’s contract.

“It protects the North Dakota University System, while at the same time providing security for presidents who are performing well,” Paulsen said.

The committee also proposes a termination policy with a clause that says a contract buyout would equal half the president’s salary and benefits.

In the past, the board had no uniform policy, so contract buyouts were determined through negotiations.

Another proposal would require board approval for supplemental pay that presidents receive from university foundations.

The presidents of the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State are paid about $212,000 a year from the state, with $50,000 to $100,000 a year in salary or deferred compensation from university foundations.

A study by a consultant found most of North Dakota’s college and university presidents are underpaid. It found the University of North Dakota president’s salary is nearly 60 percent behind the marketplace and North Dakota State University’s president is nearly 50 percent behind.

The Board of Higher Education meets Thursday in Minot.

Information from: The Forum, http://www.in-forum.com

– Associated Press



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