UND leaders say budget reduction could mean loss of more than 70 jobs

UND President Andrew Armacost, along with other members of UND’s leadership team, presented to the North Dakota Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday, Jan. 18.

011921.N.GFH.UND President Andrew Armacost
UND President Andrew Armacost presents to the North Dakota Senate Appropriations committee on Monday, Jan. 18 at the North Dakota State Capitol. (Sydney Mook/Grand Forks Herald)

Already hit with previous losses, UND leaders told legislators Monday that another budget reduction could mean the loss of more than 70 jobs.

UND President Andrew Armacost, along with other members of UND’s leadership team, presented to the North Dakota Senate Appropriations committee on Monday, Jan. 18.

“The state's investment in higher education impacts every family, every town, every sector of the economy in the state of North Dakota and so UND plays an important role (in that),” Armacost said.

Gov. Doug Burgum’s proposed budget cuts would mean a nearly $11 million reduction in the campus budget, which may translate to a loss of around 71 full-time employees. Burgum’s budget would reduce the North Dakota University System’s funding formula by 7.5%. Higher-ed leaders say that could mean the loss of 200 jobs systemwide.

The campus has been hit by job losses over the past few years, said Jed Shivers, UND’s vice president for finance.


In the 2017-19 biennium, UND reduced its operations by around $25.6 million and cut 166 positions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the university cutting 119 positions, including 33 voluntary separations or retirements, 68 part-time instructional positions, eight special faculty appointments and 10 staff members, Shivers said.

During the presentation, Armacost highlighted the Legislature’s investment in the Nistler business college. The Legislature voted in 2019 to match $20 million in donations for the building, which is being constructed on UND’s campus.

The investment is a “poster child” for challenge grants, Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, said. The Challenge Fund, which was started after the 2013-15 biennium, leverages private dollars by promising a partial state match. The state provides $1 of state money for every $2 of private donations within a per-campus limit.

UND supports continued investment for the challenge grants. Legislators have been generally supportive of the program. Further investment in the fund was included in Burgum’s proposed budget in December. Burgum’s budget would increase dollars from $9.4 million to $20 million – $10 million from the general fund and $10 million from potential June 30, 2021, Legacy Fund earnings.

Other funding requests from UND include dollars to renovate Merrifield and Twamley halls, as well as money to fix up the area where UND’s airplanes are parked, known as a flight apron.

Renovations to Merrifield and Twamley are meant to modernize instructional space and would let faculty/staff relocate once Gamble and Columbia halls are decommissioned. In addition to the $56 million the university is asking from the state, there would be $23 million in local/donated funds. The university says it would eliminate more than $132 million in deferred maintenance.

UND Student Body President Matthew Ternus said Merrifield Hall is “a relic amongst the neighboring buildings,” adding that a renovation would “provide a modern space for a 21st century educational experience” and would be consistent with other building initiatives on campus. It also would help centralize campus, moving courses out of Columbia Hall, which is located on one part of campus, to the university’s quad.


Fixing UND’s flight apron is a health and safety concern, according to the university. The Legislature previously allocated $6 million to UND to partially complete the project during the 2015 biennium. This project would eliminate $28 million in deferred maintenance.

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.

For story pitches contact her at or call her at 701-780-1134.
What To Read Next
Get Local