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UND to allocate $5.9 million in budget cuts evenly, launches strategic planning phase

A second round of budget cuts at UND is on the way after Gov. Jack Dalrymple ordered Monday he wants state agencies to slash their budgets by an additional 2.5 percent.

But how those cuts happen at UND this time around will be different.

UND President Mark Kennedy announced the cuts will be made evenly across the president's office, the president's reports and the vice presidential divisions.

In all, UND must trim nearly $5.9 million and the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, which has a separate budget, must cut $1.9 million. Dalrymple has asked all state agencies to comply by Aug. 15.

"We're disappointed it's come to this especially after we worked hard on a budget this spring under President (Ed) Schafer, but with the $300 million deficit that the state faces, the governor felt this was something he had to do," Kennedy said.

Dalrymple ordered most state agencies to trim their budgets by an additional 2.5 percent for the 2015-17 biennium. The bill will be introduced Tuesday when the Legislature convenes for a three-day special session called by Dalrymple last month after an updated revenue forecast projected a $310 million shortfall.

This 2.5 percent cut comes on top of the 4.05 percent allotment ordered by the governor in February, which led to UND slashing $12.6 million.

To make this round of cuts, Kennedy said vice presidents will work within their divisions as to how best to allocate the cuts.

Along with the allotment directive, Kennedy also announced the university will begin a strategic planning process for the school moving forward.

The strategic plan will be designed to ensure the university can make the case why the state should invest in UND, as well as how the school should direct the resources it gets from the state, Kennedy said.

"This process, as we see with today's announcement by the governor, that requires us to really focus on where we're going to devote our resources is perhaps overdue," Kennedy said. "If we can stay on some reasonable path it'll still take a year, but I think it's a process we must begin."

For that process, Kennedy tapped Laurie Betting, interim vice president for student affairs, and Dana Harsell, chair of the University Senate, as co-chairs for defining and leading the strategic planning process.

"We need to think strategically about the alignment of the University of North Dakota by playing to our strengths and really looking at how we position ourselves appropriately for the future," Betting said.

Since taking office July 1, Kennedy's two overarching goals were to have about five metrics for what it means for UND to be the premier university in the region and roughly three areas where the school will drive research.

To gather input, Kennedy has hosted ways for people to get to know the president with programs, such as "Pancakes with the President," for the university community and "Coffee with Kennedy" for people in Grand Forks and around the state. In his month as UND's leader, Kennedy has held more than 80 meetings with more than 1,300 individuals in order to gain input, advice and improve his knowledge of UND, Kennedy said.

"Our new president is actively listening to stakeholders right now, so this is a process that is running tangential with that," Harsell said. "That is something he felt was really important even in his interview and something that we're really excited to be apart of."

The hope is to bring that same collaboration into this process, and conduct it in a transparent, open and inclusive manner that gathers input from all stakeholders, Kennedy said.

"Ultimately, this needs to not be my plan," Kennedy said, "but the university's plan."

Wade Rupard

Wade Rupard is a reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. Rupard is a 2014 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and is originally from Normal, Ill. 

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