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President Mark Kennedy set to give UND priorities at Legislature

UND President Mark Kennedy will be laying out campus priorities for the 2019 legislative session, including investments in advising and research, Tuesday as a part of two days of testimony from higher education leaders in Bismarck.

Kennedy, along with several UND students, will testify in front of the House Appropriations Committee's Education and Environment Division on Tuesday morning. Rep. David Monson, R-Osnabrock, chairs the committee. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Grand Forks, also serves on the committee.

Kennedy said the university's first priority is to support the State Board of Higher Education's needs-based budget, which the board passed in June. That proposed budget did not include any cuts.

In mid-2018, the university system was potentially facing a 13 percent cut to its budget, which would have put funding at its lowest level in a decade.

However, in December Gov. Doug Burgum recommended a 5 percent cut to the higher education base budget. The recommendation came with $90 million in additional funding for increased staff compensation, Challenge Fund investment, targeted capital projects and applied research.

Kennedy said he also plans to speak about UND-specific priorities, including investments in teaching quality and advising.

"We think if we're going to provide true opportunity for students we need to get them to graduate at a higher rate and we view the investments we're making in the coordinating and professional advising staff as vital to that," he said.

Investment in research is also "critical," Kennedy said, not only to UND but to the state of North Dakota in general. He added UND plans to continue to push for more funding for research dollars with partners in North Dakota State University.

Kennedy and NDSU President Dean Bresciani traveled across North Dakota in the fall presenting their plans for increased research in North Dakota. The two had proposed asking the Legislature for $100 million in funding over the next biennium, which would have equated to $25 million a year for each institution.

However, no specific dollars were set aside for the request in Burgum's proposed budget, despite receiving support from the governor in 2018.

The UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences will also be presenting to the committee Tuesday.

The North Dakota University System is slated to start off the two-day higher education schedule.

System officials will give the committee members an overview of the system's budget, as well as systemwide issues, including faculty and staff compensation and tuition rates. The system will also go over the higher education funding formula and the 2019-21 major capital projects priority list and one-time funding items, according to a hearing schedule.

NDSU will kick-off presentations on Wednesday morning.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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