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UND Eliminating 138 Positions to Meet Budget Allotments

FARGO, N.D. ― The University of North Dakota plans to eliminate 138 faculty, staff and administration positions to help meet budget cuts ordered by the governor, the school’s interim president told state Board of Higher Education members Thursday.

Ed Schafer disclosed the numbers at the meeting, where leaders of the state’s 11 colleges and universities mapped out preliminary plans to trim finances in order to comply with Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s mandate that all agencies cut budgets by 4.05 percent. Dalrymple called for the reductions to make up for a drop in oil drilling and depressed crude prices.

The reductions range from $21.5 million at UND to $400,000 at Dakota College in Bottineau. UND’s cuts are more drastic than other institutions, mainly because of previous budget shortfalls.

“While one campus has been in the news quite a bit, there are a lot of adjustments being made,” said Mark Hagerott, the university system chancellor. “These are hard choices.”

The UND cuts, which include 51 faculty positions, will be accomplished mostly through voluntary buyouts, retirements and job consolidation. The Grand Forks school plans to lay off 20 employees, none of whom are teachers. UND previously announced it was eliminating some academic and sports programs.

Board member Kari Reichert says her “eyebrows raised quite a bit” when Schafer outlined the number of positions on the chopping block and wondered if that move ― and other cuts among the schools ― have been decided without feedback from the board, which will be asked to approve formal budget reports in June.

“Based on the numbers we have, that’s 6.7 percent of the faculty (being cut at UND),” Reichert said. “That’s all happening by June 30. I think we do have some oversight, but some of this is happening now. Those are decisions that are not easily reversed.”

Hagerott said presidents are “still evolving their plans” and the board should have a chance to review cuts to “critical programs that are unique to the state.”

The colleges unveiled various ideas to meet budget allotments. Many of the presidents said they are not taking pay raises. Bismarck State College President Larry Skogen said he would also take on duties of a vice president. Valley City State is not giving raises to anyone making more than $100,000. Lake Region College is not giving salary increases to anyone making more than $42,000.

Board member Kevin Melicher, of Fargo, said the university system has an enrollment problem, noting that the increase in the number of students was less than 1 percent in the last year.

“I think in a lot of these issues, we are kicking the can down the road,” Melicher said. “And the road is going to be gravel in the future.”

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