UND Seems To Be Making Up Costs Of Keeping Nickname Moratorium


Yesterday HB1155 – Rep. Scott Louser’s legislation extending a moratorium on picking a new nickname for the University of North Dakota – was heard before the House Education Committee. One of the questions lawmakers asked, as you might imagine, is what costs if any the university might accrue if the moratorium is extended.

After all, we heard just days ago that UND had already spent over $126,000 on a committee to form a committee to make a non-binding recommendation on the nickname.

Susan Balcom Walton, UND’s Vice President for University and Public Affairs, responded to lawmakers with the email below which outlines what they consider to be the cost of maintaining the moratorium. Now, the university would like you to believe that the costs are not insignificant, but is that true?

Here’s what Balcom Walton outlines:

The amount of $106,600 is the calculated cost to the University over the next two years in the event a new nickname is not selected.  Those costs were derived by calculating the work hours currently spent fielding inquires about the nickname and logo issue, receiving and responding to unsolicited suggestions and nominations for new nicknames and logos, and cataloguing and recording that information  (a recommendation of our university’s legal counsel).

It was calculated that 34 hours per week will be put against this task, spread across three different job levels:

—4 hours per week by an Executive Associate Vice President  ($317.50 per week, including fringes)
—10 hours per week by a Licensing Manager ($377.33, including fringes)
—20 hours per week by a half-time temp ($330.00 per week)

The total amount (including fringes):  $1,024.83 per week, or $53,291.16 annually.

We anticipated those costs to continue forward until/unless a new nickname is selected.

That sounds like a lot of money, but is it?

Is UND suggesting that the taxpayers wouldn’t be on the hook for paying for this personnel’s time if Louser’s bill doesn’t pass? Is UND going to cut the pay of this Executive Associate Vice President (yes, that’s apparently a real thing)? Are they going to cut back on the hours of their Licensing Manager? Will they fire the part-time temp worker?

Maybe the temp worker would get the ax, but the rest? C’mon, let’s get serious.

“They usually make the numbers up as a go,” one lawmaker on the education committee told me.

That certainly seems to be the case here.

UND Sioux Bill Costs by Rob Port