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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North Dakota's top leader in higher education has rejected accusations that he engaged in gender discrimination and fostered a hostile work environment in university system offices. "We strongly disagree with the former employee's characterization of events," stated Mark Hagerott, chancellor of the North Dakota University System, in a Monday press release. Though he didn't name her in his statement, Hagerott was referring to his former vice chancellor and chief of staff Lisa Feldner, whom he fired "without cause" earlier this fall.
Amid a year of jostling federal policy around refugees, those who work closely in bringing vetted people to North Dakota are expecting a continued decline in resettlements. The agency tasked with working with the federal government to resettle refugees in the state is Lutheran Social Services, a Fargo-based nonprofit. Shirley Dykshoorn manages that resettlement effort and, while she says the projected total of 352 people bound for resettlement in fiscal year 2018 is approximately in line with the LSS yearly average, the number represents a drop from the past few years.
A North Dakota higher education leader fired earlier this fall is now calling for an investigation of alleged discriminatory practices in the state's university system office under Chancellor Mark Hagerott.
GRAND FORKS — A recent survey of North Dakota University System employees suggests office climate has improved from the contentious mood captured in a 2016 study released earlier this fall — even as a system leader fired in September has begun the process of filing a retaliation complaint. "There's definitely been a culture improvement," said Don Morton, chair of the State Board of Higher Education, which oversees the system. "I think there's more confidence in leadership now."
A recent survey of North Dakota University System employees suggests office climate has improved from the contentious mood captured in a 2016 study released earlier this fall—even as a system leader fired in September has begun the process of filing a retaliation complaint. "There's definitely been a culture improvement," said Don Morton, chair of the State Board of Higher Education, which oversees the system. "I think there's more confidence in leadership now."
A UND symposium on the Standing Rock pipeline protests that sparked conversations about academic freedom now has a date set for this spring. The early plan for the April 19 event places it within the annual Time Out Week and Wacipi on the university campus. The daylong conference now in the works is the culmination of about two years of proposals from UND journalism professor Mark Trahant, who holds a three-year contract with the university through the Charles R. Johnson endowment.
UND football notched a less successful season on the field this year compared to last, but the real gameday action might start in the Alerus Center parking lot. This season was the first to debut a series of changes put together by a university committee looking to fine-tune the Fighting Hawk football experience into something with a little more pop. Looking back, UND President Mark Kennedy is happy with what he saw.
UND has made a permanent leader of its interim vice president of diversity and student affairs. Administrator Cara Halgren, a former dean of students, is now the long-term head of the office after being appointed to an interim role last winter. She said earlier this week that she was thrilled with the permanent appointment. "It's amazing and humbling, all at the same time," Halgren said.
Last week, a leader of the UND School of Graduate Studies encouraged students to contact their congressional representatives to share concerns about the GOP tax reform bill. On Thursday, the same day House Republicans approved the wide-reaching bill, UND spokesman Peter Johnson said that official outreach from Graduate Studies Associate Dean Chris Nelson never should have happened.
UND is closely watching a version of the Republican tax reform bill that could ultimately pull money from higher education. University President Mark Kennedy said the House version of the bill being debated Thursday has a "range of issues" that have landed on the radar of school leaders. "The general idea of tax reform is to lower the rates, but also to eliminate all of the special tax provisions there are for a wide range of organizations—and higher education could be one of those," Kennedy said.