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Hagerott, Neset praise Schafer's time at UND

GRAND FORKS--After leading the North Dakota University System for a year, Chancellor Mark Hagerott gave glowing reviews to nearly every university president.

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UND President Ed Schafer models a tee shirt with the new UND Fighting Hawks logo during Wednesday's unveiling at the High Performance Center. photo by Eric Hylden/Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS-After leading the North Dakota University System for a year, Chancellor Mark Hagerott gave glowing reviews to nearly every university president.

In his yearly performance evaluations, Hagerott used words such as "exemplary," "remarkable," "brilliant" and "outstanding" to describe how the president's of the system's 11 schools are doing, a feeling Kathleen Neset, president of the State Board of Higher Education, echoed.

Hagerott called Ed Schafer's performance as interim president of the University of North Dakota "superb" and complimented Schafer for stepping into a difficult situations and calming the waters. He specifically praised Schafer's handling of UND's budget cuts and rollout of the nickname and logo.

Schafer served as UND's interim president for six months after former President Robert Kelley resigned Jan. 14. Mark Kennedy took over the position Friday.

"You also arrived to a situation characterized by a budget deficit, compounded just weeks later by the largest state government allotment in decades," Hagerott wrote of Schafer. "Again, you brought to bear your calm yet decisive management skills and began the process of aligning campus programs and expenditures with new budget realities. While your initial steps were criticized by some as too aggressive, with the governor's announcement of the 90 percent budget plan for 2017-19 biennium, the wisdom of your aggressive approach was validated."

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Neset also praised Schafer for a job well done in an interview with the Herald.

"I think he came in with the right credentials," Neset said. "I think he was the right man for the job and the right person for the job. He had a very tough task ahead of him because it was not just about maintaining the status quo but it was dealing with very difficult budget constraints. I think he did that all admirably and was very much in tune with listening to the students, the staff and the faculty in the process."

Nearly all of the other university presidents also received high marks from Hagerott. Dean Bresciani, the president at NDSU, received a mostly positive review from Hagerott, though he was concerned about Bresciani cutting $3.2 million for the budget of the Grand Challenge Initiative. Hagerott also said he was concerned about Bresciani's "communication and teamwork" with the State Board of Higher Education, the chancellor and senior members of the NDUS staff.

The State Board of Higher Education voted Wednesday to table Bresciani's contract extension until November. The other six contracts up for renewal at the meeting were extended.

"We tabled that to a later date to allow for more work to be done and to allow for some goals to be put in place, which we laid out, and then allow time to work through them with the board, with the chancellor, with Dr. Bresciani, in order to further North Dakota State University," Neset said.

Overall, Neset said she likes the direction the university system is going. Board members are respectful, professional and their method of deliberation is clear, Neset said.

"I'll extend that praise to the presidents, the chancellor and our entire system office," Neset said. "I think we've really had a very, very strong team in higher education."

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