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Kennedy receives midyear review from chancellor

Chancellor Mark Hagerott of the North Dakota University System. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service file photo

While North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott had a generally positive midyear review of UND President Mark Kennedy, some members of the State Board of Higher Education had concerns about what wasn't in the review.

During Tuesday's SBHE meeting, board member Dan Traynor expressed concern that certain issues were not addressed in the review, including the search for the law school dean, issues with the UND aviation department and others.

Hagerott said he has spoken with Kennedy about each of those issues. Additionally, he said there are written records of their discussions available for people to read via an open records request. Hagerott also offered to give more information to board members individually about verbal discussions he had with Kennedy.

"I did not feel inclined that it would be helpful to be recording publicly candid comments about each of the situations in a written document," Hagerott said.

Traynor then asked what the benefit of having a review was if it did not address concerns raised by the board.

Hagerott responded by noting that each time a president's contract is up for renewal, the board goes into executive session in order to bring up additional concerns board members have. Additionally, Hagerott said there are often people involved in various campus topics who are not under the chancellor's review, so he is trying to navigate the privacy of parties that are associated with presidents.

Birgit Pruess, faculty adviser for the board, said she understands the review given by the chancellor, but also considers concerns that faculty and staff communicate to her.

Pruess said Hagerott's review was "glowing" overall and barely touched on any issues on campus. She said a few lines should be included on certain topics that can continued to be discussed.

Following the meeting, Kennedy said there has been "great progress" made with the aviation department, noting that meetings between UND Provost Tom DiLorenzo, Vice President of Finance and Operations Jed Shivers and aerospace Dean Paul Lindseth helped address many concerns after the aviation faculty voted 32-0 in favor of a no confidence resolution for DiLorenzo in August.

Review

"After a review of various metrics as well as strategic plans for several of your initiatives, I can conclude that in the past six months, you have continued a remarkable balancing act: Meet the urgent needs of running the campus today but take action to position for the future," Hagerott wrote.

Hagerott commended Kennedy for his "success and steady focus" on retention and attainment efforts. UND has raised its four-year graduation rates by more 10 percent in the last three years.

Hagerott also commended Kennedy for "responding to the direction of the SBHE to continue, despite tight budgetary conditions, to develop innovative approaches to UND campus challenges." He also praised Kennedy and his team for the work they are doing in online education and for tackling issues such as deferred maintenance, even during a series of budget cuts over the past two years.

"There's very much to be proud of in terms of accomplishments in the last three years here at the University of North Dakota," Kennedy said.

However, Hagerott's review was not all glowing. It also critiqued Kennedy's relationship with stakeholders.

Hagerott said after holding listening sessions with the larger body of UND stakeholders, Kennedy's ability to connect with, communicate and take input from stakeholders is "an area of relative need."

Hagerott continued saying that many of these stakeholders have supported UND and the state of North Dakota for generations, so Kennedy's "patience and attentiveness to their counsel and observations" will assist him as UND president.

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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