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UND faculty to consider 'crisis in confidence' resolution

GRAND FORKS—The University of North Dakota University Senate will consider a draft resolution issued by its counterpart at North Dakota State University expressing a "crisis of confidence" in the leadership of North Dakota higher education, said the senate's elected head.

Dana Harsell, chair of the UND campus senate, said the body's executive committee will discuss the proclamation in good faith at its Wednesday meeting to "get some consensus if this body would support it or not."

"Like any resolution or anything that comes up, we really have to see what the ... will of the University Senate is," Harsell said. "It's something that we're definitely going to look at."

The draft proposal was sent last week to representatives of all 11 campuses in the North Dakota University System and included a brief introduction by NDSU Faculty Senate President Katie Gordon, an associate professor of psychology. The body of the text begins with the declaration of a "crisis of confidence" within the NDUS, due to budget cuts, consolidation efforts described as misguided and an "apparent lack of consideration for long-term effects on higher education."

The draft resolution also expresses a perceived lack of support for institutions of higher education on the part of the NDUS and the State Board of Higher Education, the system's policy-making body. To remedy the issues listed in the resolution, the NDSU Faculty Senate called upon the SBHE and Chancellor Mark Hagerott to improve on its advocacy through "supportive collaborations" between campus and state leadership. The draft resolution also called for a Higher Education Summit to be held with campus stakeholders and Hagerott, the SBHE and Gov. Doug Burgum to "discuss the value and future" of the state's higher education system.

"Without immediate, effective collaborative action," the resolution states, "it is a near certainty that the system and institutions will be unable to continue to fulfill their missions, the NDUS's mission and vision and the SBHE's beliefs and core values."

Harsell said the executive committee of the UND University Senate sets the agenda for the group as a whole and will determine if the draft resolution is something the wider body might support. He added that changing factors between the issuance of the draft resolution and the next meeting of the University Senate could render the document "kind of a moot point."

"From the legislative process, it's something we'd bring up," Harsell said, "but maybe it's something that blows over."

At the time of UND's receipt of the draft, the NDSU Faculty Senate did not plan to send the resolution any further than the 11 system campuses, according to Gordon's introduction.

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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