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North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani listens during the first research committee meeting held in Grand Forks on Wednesday, July 31. Photo by Sydney Mook/Grand Forks Herald

State Board of Higher Education research committee meets for the first time

The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education’s research committee, chaired by SBHE member Casey Ryan, met for the first time Wednesday, July 31.

The research committee is made up of three State Board members, the presidents from the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University, the universities' two vice presidents for research and a faculty member from UND and NDSU. Additionally, the NDUS chancellor, vice chancellor of academic affairs and a representative from the nine other NDUS institutions round out the committee. Industry leaders also will play a role.

Throughout the meeting, members remarked that it is a priority for them to communicate the importance of research throughout the state.

“I think the opportunity to elevate research is huge,” Ryan said.

NDSU President Dean Bresciani and UND interim President Joshua Wynne each remarked that the state’s research schools are already doing a large amount of research, even compared to regional and national schools of their size.

“There are very few institutions of our 14,000 or so students that have a research institutions,” Bresciani said, noting NDSU and UND are doing up to four times more research than other schools in the area.

However, the institutions lack state support for research, he said.

Bresciani, alongside former UND President Mark Kennedy, spent time last year traveling the state to speak about the importance of research. The institutions proposed splitting $100 million in the next biennium for research-related purposes.

The proposal was ultimately downgraded during the latest legislative session. Instead, the two institutions asked to split 15% of Legacy Fund earnings, with a $45 million cap. The bill passed the Senate by a large margin, 43-4, but failed in the House, 62-30.

While the bill failed, Bresciani said he is excited to see the Legislature taking the first steps toward supporting research in the state.

“As we see state legislators starting to understand the economic impact our research universities can have on the state, I see our role here as being very exciting,” Bresciani said. “But we have two institutions that are doing far more than any of their peer institutions.”

Others in the room shared his enthusiasm and spoke about the need to communicate with the rest of the state to make clear the importance of research.