- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota University System leaders and college presidents will go without pay raises for the third straight year due to the state’s ongoing budget crunch.

The state Board of Higher Education on Tuesday voted to extend the contracts of eight of the 10 presidents through 2019 at their current salaries. The move didn’t apply to the University of North Dakota’s Mark Kennedy, whose contract was already valid through 2019, and Williston State College’s John Miller, who was named to the post during the meeting in Bismarck.

Most of the presidents last received raises in 2014, and most of those were 3 percent.

The salary freeze also applies to University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott and his senior staff members. Hagerott earns $372,000 a year.

“I would love to give them all pay raises. They deserve pay raises. But this is the world we’re in,” Hagerott said. “These are tough times.”

The board approved the salaries after meeting behind closed doors for about 90 minutes. Board member Kevin Melicher, of Fargo, said that while the current economic condition of the state is understandable, the university system needs to work toward staying competitive with other states.

“We don’t want to lose the wonderful presidents and the wonderful executive staff that we do have,” Melicher said.

Kennedy, from UND, is the highest paid president in the system, at $365,000, which is $432 a year more than North Dakota State University’s Dean Bresciani is making. Steven Shirley, who oversees both Minot State and Dakota College at Bottineau, is next, at $257,500.

Dickinson State’s Thomas Mitzel earns $209,000, followed by North Dakota State College of Science’s John Richman and Bismarck State’s Larry Skogen at $201,896, Mayville State’s Gary Hagen at $196,201, Valley City State’s Tisa Mason at $195,700, and Lake Region State College’s Doug Darling at $173,988.

Hagerott said the presidents have not let tight times stop them from proceeding with plans for student retention and software integration.

“They are managing their campuses, taking care of people, making hard decisions and letting people go, but also moving into new areas of knowledge that won’t wait for the price of corn and wheat and oil to go up,” Hagerott said.

The board also approved a budget of $65.8 million for the university system office. Board member Greg Stemen, of LaMoure, said that the number may look imposing but only about $4 million goes to running the office.

Hagerott said his office been reduced by 40 percent since he took over three years ago.

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