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Board recommends higher pay for NDSU head

A State Board of Higher Education committee will consider increasing North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani’s salary by 7.57 percent over the next two years, even though a consultant recently criticized the board for giving university presidents too much leeway.

Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen recommended the increase based on NDSU’s ranking as an institution of "very high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, even though the college has held the title since 2011.

The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources lists $450,000 as the median salary for presidents at "very high" research institutions, like NDSU, and Skogen is pushing for the second year in a row to raise the president’s salary to up to 80 percent of that amount.

SBHE spokeswoman Linda Donlin said Skogen is pushing for the two-year commitment because NDSU is the only North Dakota University System institution where the president’s salary is less than 80 percent of the median.

"The whole concept is during the course of the next two years to get the president of NDSU salary back into a competitive range," Donlin said.

In most other instances, UND and NDSU are considered to be equal as research institutions and the board only uses the Carnegie rankings to calculate the salaries for people in leadership positions, Donlin said.

At a meeting today, the SBHE Budget and Finance Committee will consider giving Bresciani a 4 percent raise of $13,369 for the coming year. UND President Robert Kelley would receive a 3 percent raise of $10,508 because of UND’s lower "high research activity" rank. Skogen also recommended a 3.57 percent raise of $12,416 for the 2016 school year for Bresciani.

Donlin said that year’s salary increases have not been determined for any other University System presidents because the board is focused on bringing the presidential compensation at NDSU up to a level comparable with peer institutions.

"It’s Bresciani’s because he’s there now, but they want the salary competitive for NDSU as a research institution," she said.

Bresciani received a 4 percent raise and Kelley received a 3 percent raise last year, even after former SBHE Chancellor Hamid Shirvani criticized both Kelley and Bresciani in June 2013 and recommended no raise for Kelley due to "poor leadership."

Three weeks ago, consultant Tom Meredith with the California-based firm Penson Associates, said he was troubled by the actions of several unnamed university presidents and criticized the board for not holding them accountable for their actions.

But Donlin stressed the salary increase is meant to benefit NDSU as an institution, not Bresciani specifically.

NDSU has "very high research activity" because the school increased research and development expenditures, staff and awarded more doctorate degrees.

The Carnegie website notes that this change in rank does not reflect the quality or importance of research done by an institution.

Kelley currently makes about $16,000 more than Bresciani, and even if the committee approves Skogen’s recommendations, Kelley would still make about $13,000 more than Bresciani in the coming year and their salaries would be almost equal in 2016.

Other business

The committee will also address Skogen’s proposal to spend $177 million on capital projects on campuses. UND would receive $62 million of that allocation for the completion of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Skogen’s proposal would eliminate $69 million in deferred maintenance, even though an external consultant indicated the facilities were in need of $800 million worth of repairs.

Skogen’s solution to the problem lies in asking the Legislature for more base funding.

"In order to limit additions to the deferred maintenance backlog in the future, I am supporting a legislative initiative to provide additional base funding through the higher education funding formula," Skogen wrote in a committee memo. "It’s important to note that in the selection process, we endeavored to address deferred maintenance as much as possible in our capital projects requests."

About $20 million of the eliminated maintenance would be distributed to campuses meeting certain stipulations.

Anna Burleson

Anna Burleson is the higher education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Mass Communication program and is originally from Watertown, S.D. Contact her with story ideas or tips by phone, email or Twitter, all of which are listed below. Examples of her work can be accessed here.

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