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Under governor's orders, NDSU to cut $6.4 million from budget

FARGO -- North Dakota State University will trim $6.4 million from its budget over the next 10 days, in part by delaying funding for a key research initiative and possibly not filling some open positions, the provost said in an email to employees...

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Gates on the North Dakota State University campus in north Fargo. Forum file photo.

FARGO -- North Dakota State University will trim $6.4 million from its budget over the next 10 days, in part by delaying funding for a key research initiative and possibly not filling some open positions, the provost said in an email to employees on Monday.

On Monday morning, Gov. Jack Dalrymple ordered state agencies that receive general fund dollars, including NDSU, to cut 4.05 percent of their budgets to cover a $1 billion revenue shortfall due to slumping oil and farm commodity prices.

NDSU's general fund appropriation for 2015-17 was about $158.1 million, according to an email from the state Office of Management and Budget. The University of North Dakota's appropriation was $235.6 million, so UND will cut $9.5 million. The NDSU Main Research Center has to cut $2.4 million, and the NDSU Extension Service has to cut $1.2 million.

Agencies need to submit their cuts to the Office of Management and Budget by Feb. 17, Director Pam Sharp said in Monday's email, which was requested under state open records law.

NDSU needs to submit its cuts to the system office by Feb. 11, which is why the university does not find it "feasible" to hold a campus-wide discussion about this, Provost Beth Ingram wrote in an email to employees Monday evening.

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Ingram said she will work with vice presidents to make the cuts, using "one-time savings to the greatest extent possible."

Specifically, NDSU will reduce spending on some professional development activities; consider implementing shared services across departments, programs and colleges; and delay funding for the Grand Challenge initiative until fall 2017.

The university's latest strategic vision includes three "grand challenges," or areas in which NDSU will focus research: food systems, healthy populations and sustainable energy. Initially, $1 million was available for the plan's expenses, such as new hires, according to NDSU's website. Now, those hires will be delayed, Ingram said.

NDSU will also "intensify the level of review of requests to hire for open faculty and staff positions," Ingram wrote. "We will evaluate positions based on centrality to the mission of the department, college, and University."

Some of these proposed measures, such as sharing services, were advised by Chancellor Mark Hagerott, Ingram wrote. Hagerott also asked that colleges scrutinize "efficiencies in course delivery, specifically annual faculty course loads" and "hiring, travel, and equipment purchases."

Hagerott advised that colleges "prioritize building repairs and maintenance based on safety and well-being," Ingram wrote.

The university cannot increase tuition or fees to offset the shortfall, she said.

NDSU will be forming a study group of faculty, staff and students to guide decisions in the event of more permanent budget changes, Ingram wrote.

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School officials were not available for an interview Monday, but President Dean Bresciani briefly addressed the impending budget cuts in an email to university employees last week.

"That, of course, is never good news, but NDSU is in arguably the best financial position it has been for decades if not its entire history, and we anticipate being able to accommodate the situation with much less felt consequence that (sic) many of our sister institutions," he wrote.

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