The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education is tasked with educating today’s students and tomorrow’s workforce and it is a responsibility that we take seriously. We understand that there is a great need in health care, especially in the field of nursing.
Currently, the university system has nine nursing programs with a total of 1,736 students in various degree programs from licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to registered nurses (RNs) to Doctors of Nursing. More than $34 million is spent each biennium to educate this next generation of medical professionals.
Recently, the NDSU School of Nursing in Bismarck came under scrutiny by the legislature and questions were raised as to the appropriateness of the contract that brought the school under the university banner. As a result, the operation of the school would require additional funding from the legislature.
I want to thank Rep. Al Carlson and Rep. Bob Martinson for raising this issue and helping to resolve the contract’s shortcomings. In my opinion, legislative intent was not to close the school, but rather, to use the funding discussion to create a catalyst for re-opening negotiations of the contract. These negotiations resulted in North Dakota taxpayers saving approximately $800,000 per biennium.
I also want to thank the professionals at Sanford. They were under no obligation to re-open the terms of the contract, yet, they agreed to the discussion. In the end, we came to an agreement that serves the best interests of all stakeholders involved, but most importantly, students in the nursing program can continue their studies without interruption.
There are many lessons to be learned from this experience, but foremost is that we can solve any problem and resolve any conflict by sitting down and working together to benefit the students within the North Dakota University System.