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UPDATE: Williston State College president resigns earlier than expected

BISMARCK -- After saying last month he would stay until June 2017, the president of Williston State College announced Monday his resignation is effective immediately, saying he doesn't want to wait another year to join his wife and children in Se...

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Williston State College President Raymond Nadolny pictured in March 2014. (Williston Herald)

BISMARCK - After saying last month he would stay until June 2017, the president of Williston State College announced Monday his resignation is effective immediately, saying he doesn't want to wait another year to join his wife and children in Seattle.

Raymond Nadolny, who became the college's third president in April 2009, announced his resignation on May 16, saying he would stay until his contract expired on June 30, 2017.

In an interview Monday, Nadolny said his original intent in setting that date was to provide more breathing room for the two-year college of just over 1,000 students.

But after discussing it with North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott after the announcement and again after the Envision 2030 summit on May 23 in Bismarck, Nadolny saw an opportunity to leave earlier, noting the college is in a "great fiscal position" with a solid staff.

"So I thought it's best to do it now," he said, after emailing faculty and staff about his decision. "I really have a hard time thinking about how to spend another year away from my family."

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Hagerott said in a statement that the system respects Nadolny's decision and is "working to make the transition as smooth as possible" for WSC students, faculty and staff.

Vice President of Academic Affairs John Miller will fill the role of acting president, Hagerott said. Miller was an instructional dean at the College of Southern Idaho before coming to Williston State a year ago. Nadolny called him "just an outstanding man of character."

Nadolny's current annual salary is $188,798. A separation agreement, approved unanimously Monday in a last-minute special meeting of the State Board of Higher Education, will pay his salary through December.

Some board members debated the decision in light of the state's tight budget situation.

North Dakota University System Mark Hagerott and SBHE Chairwoman Kathleen Neset said Nadolny's years of successful service at WSC should be taken into account while board member Kari Reichert said "we can't really afford to be really nice."

Before coming to Williston, Nadolny spent nine years as vice president for extended learning at Lake Washington Technical College in Kirkland, Wash.

During his seven years as president, he oversaw $31 million in capital projects, including a new TrainND building. The college also partnered with Williston Parks and Recreation on a $77 million recreation center. Full-time equivalency enrollment increased by about 30 percent in just the past three years.

Nadolny was temporarily placed on paid leave in October 2014 for alleged misconduct involving alcohol use.

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Hagerott wished Nadolny the best and said the state Board of Higher Education will be asked to consider him for emeritus status, which Nadolny called "quite an honor."

"I'm just so pleased to be considered for it, because this has probably been the best experience of my career," he said.

Nadolny has three daughters in Seattle - a first-grader, third-grader and high school sophomore - and another daughter who's a freshman at the University of Washington. His wife, a corporate attorney, had been traveling back and forth during the past year, he said.

Nadolny said he originally committed to being in Williston for three years but ended up staying for seven, and his family is ready for his return to the West Coast.

"I'm on Facebook, and my wife keeps sending me pictures of the kids on the beach," he said.

Anna Burleson contributed to this report.

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