North Dakota higher ed board committee discusses Energy and Environmental Research Center project – Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS – Members of the North Dakota Board of Higher Education’s Budget and Finance Committee gave an early nod for a project at UND to upgrade the facilities used by the Energy and Environmental Research Center.

The proposed project, funded by $25 million in bonds, would demolish and replace six buildings operated by the EERC on UND’s campus with one new advanced materials processing facility that could better accommodate the renewable energy research conducted by the EERC. It would also upgrade the EERC’s primary electrical distribution system.

Jed Shivers, outgoing vice president of finance and operations at UND, explained that the EERC is reaching limitations to research due to the age of its current facility.

“This will enable them to continue in their growth, so from an economic perspective, we feel very confident about their ability to service this bond,” Shivers said.

Charles Gorecki, CEO of the EERC, said that by demolishing the six buildings, which range from 44 to 72 years in age, the EERC would reduce deferred maintenance costs by $360,000 per year for the next 10 years. The new facility would be designed to accommodate current research needs and future developments in clean energy research.

“They’re really not suited to handle the vast technology developments and research needs for us at this time,” said Gorecki, talking about the current buildings used by the EERC. “This new facility would replace those six old buildings with one state of the art new facility with modular capability to bring in whatever type of research projects we might have in the future, with appropriate lab and demonstration space.”

The committee moved to request approval for a resolution authorizing the UND Alumni Association & Foundation to issue up to $25 million in lease revenue bonds on behalf of the North Dakota University System to finance upgrades to the EERC. The project will need further approval from the 68th North Dakota Legislative Assembly to move forward.

Committee members also approved fiscal year 2023 salary ranges for vice chancellors and senior officers in the North Dakota University System.

Chancellor Mark Hagerott said his goal was to bring as many employees as possible to 80% of market rate for the position. The committee approved a 2% salary increase for vice chancellor of academic and student affairs, vice chancellor for administrative affairs/chief financial officer, vice chancellor of strategy and strategic engagement and vice chancellor IT/CIO. The committee approved a 4% salary increase for the university system’s chief of staff.

The chancellor’s salary will be determined by the full board at its June 30 meeting.

In other SBHE news, members:

  • Discussed the 2023-2025 operational and capital budgets. Committee members approved both budgets to move to the full board meeting on June 30.
  • Discussed a request for authorization to remodel the interior of Carnegie Hall at an estimated cost of $3,800,000 with local funds. Carnegie Hall is a vacant office building, and the project would remodel the interior of the building into office space for the president and vice president for academic affairs/provost and their staff during the ongoing renovation on Merrifield and Twamley Halls and decommissioning of Columbia Hall.
  • Approved the financial terms and length of lease associated with UND Memorial Village P3 between UND and the UND Alumni Association & Foundation. Memorial Village is set to be a mixed-use building on the former site of Memorial Stadium. Memorial Village LLC will own the upper floors for private apartments and UNDAAF will own the first floor of the building and lease it to UND for UND Athletics.

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