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DSU budget receives positive review from House

Press Photo by John Odermann An $8.82 million addition to Dickinson State University's Stoxen Library is just one of the items included in the North Dakota University System's budget request for the 2009-2011 biennium.

Dickinson State University presented its budget request for the 2009-2011 biennium to the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday afternoon in Bismarck.

The budget, totaling $35.9 million is part of the North Dakota University System's budget request that totals $557.4 million.

Dr. Richard McCallum, the president of DSU presented the request and Rep. Frank Wald, R-Dickinson, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, said the request was received favorably.

"It went really well, I was impressed with Dr. McCallum, he did very well," Wald said. "There were very few questions."

McCallum said the budgeting focuses on meeting several challenges the NDUS faces, including employee retention.

The budget calls for a five percent increase in employee pay each year of the biennium to help compete with other states for faculty and staff.

McCallum said North Dakota is on the low-end of the employee payment scale and the raise in pay is important.

"We need that in order to be able to compete with the recruitment and the retention of personnel, both faculty and staff," McCallum said.

Other issues DSU's hoped to address in its budget included; escalating costs, facilities to support quality improvement, emergency preparedness and student affordability.

McCallum said the university depends on the state to help keep tuition and other fees low.

"We are very, very dependant on state support to help us offset and curtail increases in tuition," McCallum said. "The state support is very essential."

Also included in the NDUS's budget request is an addition to DSU's Stoxen library.

"We have outgrown the library," McCallum said. "When the library was built in the 60s the campus had about 700 students. Our student enrollment has increased significantly, we're standing at about 2,700 students now."

McCallum said the university has 160,000 volumes, of which 17,000 volumes are held in remote storage in the basement of a residence hall on campus and additional space is also required for the Theodore Roosevelt Center and the Theodore Roosevelt Virtual Library project.

An $8.82 million addition would include an additional 40,000 sq. ft. attached to east side of the current library facilities. Gov. John Hoeven allocated $2 million in his budget to begin the planning, blueprinting and design of the addition. Phase II would be planned for the 2011-2013 biennium and would include over 27,000 sq. ft. at a cost of $4.82 million.

The project sits at No. 9 on the NDUS's priority list for capital projects, but Wald said he hopes to get the full amount funded in federal stimulus bill funding.

"I am going to be introducing an amendment to appropriate $8.82 million dollars that I believe qualifies for this project," Wald said. "The Theodore Roosevelt component to that library is very interesting to everybody and all the committee members were very impressed."