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UND leaders speak to economic drive of higher ed

UND President Mark Kennedy is interviewed Tuesday in his Twamley Hall office in July, 2016. File photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald1 / 2
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UND President Mark Kennedy and other university leaders made their strongest case for higher education Tuesday before members of the North Dakota Senate Appropriations Committee.

During his presentation, Kennedy highlighted the role of UND as a job creation engine for the state, pitching the university’s research capabilities as a high-yield investment for state funding. According to a post on the UND blog, every $1 in state-provided research funding attracted $6 more from external sources over the course of 2016.

The UND blog reported Kennedy suggested to state legislators that “there is no other institution in the state that matches that,” adding the research function was a vital area to sustain.

Beyond research, Kennedy also spoke to the university’s success over the last two budget cycles in utilizing the state’s Challenge Fund matching program. Through the state-backed match, UND was awarded $16.5 million in state funds in those years in response to $33 million in private donations.

In his Monday budget recommendations, Gov. Doug Burgum suggested reducing the higher education budgets by $31 million from the level suggested by former Gov. Jack Dalrymple. To make up for some of the cut, Burgum recommended boosting funding for higher education challenge grants from $3 million to $10 million.

UND Alumni Association and Foundation CEO DeAnna Carlson Zink underlined the positive impact of the fund for students, faculty and programming during a Tuesday presentation to the UND Caucus.

Hesham El-Rewini, dean of the UND College of Engineering and Mines, has made notable use of the fund in the past to help raise capital for his college’s Collaborative Energy Complex facility. The $15.5 million, 37,000-square-foot building was dedicated last fall and received $3.9 million from the Challenge Fund.

“States realize that even when the budget is crunched, when they offer matching grants, they are in a way bringing more resources into the state,” said El-Rewini to a UND blog. “So it would be a mistake to hinder that program.”

  • The University of Minnesota-Crookston will host the 42nd Annual Ag Arama Jan. 27-28. The event will include animal showmanship contests, an alumni social, the Ag Arama Dance, live music and more. The event is open to the public.

  • The University of Minnesota Extension of Thief River Falls will host a One Vegetable, One Community workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Evergreen Eating Emporium in Thief River Falls. The workshop is a gardening campaign focused on uniting communities around one featured vegetable. Registration is available online at

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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