MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

October 31, 2020

Biennial budget request begins with OMB budget hearing

Steve Bensen, MSU Interim Vice President for Business Affairs, and I had the privilege of representing Mayville State University in a budget hearing before the North Dakota Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday, Oct. 13. We presented the university’s 2021-23 operating appropriation and capital project requests, as well as an overview of the university showing how Mayville State is helping to meet the needs of North Dakota.

Mr. Bensen started things out with our request for a needs-based budget request. As we have in the past, we are asking for slight increases that help us to stay on pace with the rising costs of doing business. This includes a small amount that would be used to hire faculty into high demand program areas, hire professional and trade staff to help manage administrative and service areas expanding responsibilities, provide additional funds for department operations, and matching funds for critical extraordinary repairs. Other programmatic needs include student health services, instructional technology design, as well as other priority institutional needs.

We also requested a salary increase of 3% to compensate employees for additional workload, noting that salary increases are critical in recruiting and retaining the best employees to ensure the ongoing success of Mayville State.

Our total campus operations budget request is $18,905,632. This includes $16,061,624 in the 2021-23 base appropriation.

Steve and I also presented our capital asset request for installation of a natural gas boiler at a cost of $1,600,000. Mayville State uses coal as the primary heat source and fuel oil as the secondary fuel. Natural gas is a viable fuel source starting in 2021 and is being considered for the alternative fuel. Replacement of the oil-fired boilers is being considered because of increased maintenance costs, boiler refurbishment costs, ancillary steam accessories repair, and steam delivery location of the existing 20-year-old vertical style boilers. In addition, the existing fuel storage facility on campus is a 50-year-old single wall fuel oil tank which will need to be addressed or replaced in the near future.

This capital project has been approved by the State Board of Higher Education and was listed third on a long list of proposed projects. It will enhance our infrastructure and improve our campus while providing a cleaner footprint for all. Benefits include reduced deferred maintenance, efficiency and long-term savings, cleaner and reliable fuel source, and boosting Traill County economic development through a commitment to annual use of natural gas. The cost of the project is $1.6 million and completion of it will address $1.6 million in deferred maintenance, a win-win.

In addition to specific budget requests, I gave a general overview of Mayville State University. Since being founded in 1889, Mayville State has embraced the philosophy of personal service, the foundation of our core values. We are helping to meet the needs of North Dakota with innovative academic programs and enhanced resources for students.

I was able to share some great news from Mayville State. In the fall of 2020, we enrolled the largest first-year class in six years and saw a 2% increase in degree-seekers. A majority of our students are from North Dakota: 72.5% of freshmen and 63.7% of all current Mayville State students. Our nursing program is making a big impact in our state, where the need for nursing professional is great, as 61% of our nursing graduates are from North Dakota and are working full-time. In addition, 69% of all of our graduates are working in North Dakota and contribute to our great state. We’ve made great strides in fundraising and the number of private dollars invested in Mayville State continues to grow.

The requested funding for the 2021-23 biennium will help us to continue to make a difference for students. These are people who will make our state, our country, and our world better places through the work they do in the careers and in the communities where they live and work.