UND's Vice Presidents Circling The Wagons Around Kelley


After outgoing Chancellor Hamid Shirvani ripped UND President Robert Kelley (and a couple of others) in an assessment, a who’s-who of the university’s bloated administration is circling the wagons around him.

Shirvani recommended no salary increase for Kelley (he’s already making north of $340,000/year) and only a one-year contract extension, but Kelley’s minions want their boss to get a raise and a three-year contract extension according to the Grand Forks Herald.

But there are a lot of excellent reasons to question Kelley’s leadership at UND. Here are some examples:

Where’s the money going? – Tuition at the University of North Dakota has increased over 100% in the last decade, with inflation increasing only 28%. State appropriations to UND have also more than doubled during that time frame, and enrollment has expanded too increasing revenues from tuition and fees. Where is this money going?

The REAC Building – This was a $19 million facility built which opened in 2009 on the UND campus. Of the building price, $10 million of which was supposed to be funded by biotech and engineering companies paying rent. As it stands, the building is currently sitting half-empty more than four years later and is costing UND upwards of $1 million per year. What has Kelley done to fix this problem that has lingered for years now?

How is UND replacing lost research funds? – The University of North Dakota has seen a decline in research funds from $127 million in 2009-2010 to roughly $40 million as of June of 2013. What has Kelley done to replace this funding? Or reduce costs so that the burden of a failing research enterprise doesn’t hit students and taxpayers who have already seen a dramatic increase in their costs? Nothing, it seems.

Where are the nurses? – UND received $4 million for a nursing research facility, but insiders at UND say the building is mostly empty. Is this going to be another mostly-empty facility on the UND campus?

Chancellor Shirvani recommended a “360 review” for President Kelley who, along with every other president in the North Dakota University System, has never faced one before. Kelley’s underlings say they welcome a review, saying it would illustrate all the positives at UND.

But a competent, thorough and objective review would find many problems at UND, which like so many institutions of higher education both in North Dakota and out has drifted far from its core mission of providing quality, affordable education to the citizens of North Dakota.