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North Dakota lawmaker: Be cautious with university presidents’ homes proposals


A proposal to build a new home for the North Dakota State University president might not sit well with the public, even though private money would fund the estimated $900,000 cost, a state lawmaker says.

“That number is going to scare some people and cause some bad vibrations,” said Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo.

The NDSU Development Foundation proposes building an addition to the NDSU president’s home and renovating the existing part, or razing the existing home and building a new one if that proves more cost-effective.

The state Board of Higher Education is to consider the proposal Thursday, along with one put forth by the University of North Dakota Foundation to spend $900,000 in donations to raze the president’s home on that campus and build a new one.

Carlson said he does not oppose the NDSU plan, but he wonders how the public will react to the price tag.

NDSU Development Foundation Executive Director Jim Miller said the nearly 60-year-old president’s house is outdated, and presents health and safety problems.

UND wants a new home as a recruiting tool for a new president, said Laura Block, chief financial officer for the UND Alumni Association and Foundation. Current UND President Charles Kupchella is retiring.

Rep. Rick Berg, R-Fargo, said it is a positive that both campuses are looking for private donors to fund the projects. But Carlson said it is important that donations for new houses not shortchange student scholarships or professorships.

Rep. Steve Zaiser, D-Fargo, suggested NDSU wait with its president’s house to avoid the appearance of one-upmanship.

“I don’t see the rush,” he said.

The Legislature’s Budget Section needs to authorize the NDSU and UND projects before they can go forward.

Information from: The Forum,

– Associated Press

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