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Rep. Rick Holman • Legislative Report, April 22, 2016

One of the responsibilities of Legislators during the time between sessions is to serve on interim study committees.  The Higher Education Committee is made up of legislators from House and Senate to study issues, receive reports and propose legislation for the 2017 Legislative Assembly.

During this interim the meetings have not been held in Bismarck, but on several of the college campuses. At all meetings, there are also representatives from the State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) which has the responsibility of governing the entire system. At each meeting we are brought up to date on issues pertinent to the host institution. So far we have visited Dickinson, Williston, Devils Lake, NDSU, Bottineau, and Minot. In June we will visit Valley City and at our final meeting in August we will hear from UND and tour the new Med School. Missing from the list so far are Bismarck, Wahpeton and Mayville. The new facilities at Mayville would be a good tour if time allows. Even though the Governor’s recent cuts in funding  to meet the constitutional requirement of a balanced budget have required some changes, all institutions are making the necessary adjustments with the hope that our commodity based state budget will recover.

Because of my background working in Higher Ed, I appreciate the opportunity to be on this committee. My work at Mayville State as well as connections with Minot, UND and NDSU has helped as we take time listening, learning, questioning and discussing with a goal of recommending improvements to make our excellent system of higher education even better. It’s my personal opinion that the leadership of Chancellor Hagerott and his staff, the guidance of the State Board and the leadership at each institution is energizing our campuses as they adapt to the changes of the 21st Century.

The educational model I experienced in the 60″s, where a room full of young adults would sit in a room two or three times a week listening to a lecture, is not what we are seeing. The ability of a student to learn without physically being on a campus is one major change. The access to a wide range of information on a phone or computer provides access to knowledge that was not readily available just a few years ago. Libraries still have paper resources but also must provide access to the latest electronic information. Faculties have access to technology that can dramatically change the way they deliver a course. Schools of the future will be different from what many of us experienced.

Some specific committee study has included the following:

The impact of changes in delivery methods on campus infrastructure.

A look at a vision of the future for each institution.

Examination of changes in administrative positions and pay over the past five years.

Examination of the governance model of the SBHE along with the role of the president.

Reports from Tribal Colleges, the Medical School, Vocational and Technical Education and Institutional Policies on Sexual Assault.

Campus police and the relationship with community police.

One thing that our committee hears repeatedly is that North Dakota is a leader in educational innovation and research. A benefit of our low population state and smaller sized institutions is the elimination of many of the bureaucratic barriers that exist is larger states. Adapting to the new ways of educating is easier. That’s a good thing. We have an excellent system of higher education that stacks up well to what is going on in other parts of United States. Our high school graduates and those seeking a career change don’t need to look elsewhere to receive a high quality educational experience. Rep. Rick Holman. rholman@nd.gov

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