Hagerott: Changes may be in the works for NDUS presidents' contracts

North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott.

Changes to presidential contracts could be coming to the North Dakota University System, according to NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott.

Presidents’ contracts within the NDUS are a single page long and contain basic information, including the president’s salary and the length of the particular contract. They also reference State Board of Higher Education and NDUS policies. The contract does not include any type of buyout clause or other language related to the early departure of a president.

“So maybe we were trying to reduce the bureaucracy,” Hagerott said when explaining why presidents’ contracts are kept brief. “... I have negotiated several contracts with presidents and when you have one page, you say, ‘there it is, there is the salary.’ They aren’t thumbing through pages, getting their lawyer out and looking for some fine print. The benefit of this is that they know they had 10 other presidents that applied to that policy and now all they have to look at is the one page.”

Meanwhile, former UND President Mark Kennedy’s contract in Colorado is 14 pages long. It contains specific language regarding buyouts and job hunting while still under an agreement with the system. It also includes a requirement for a university to pay a recruitment fee, up to $750,000, should another college lure Kennedy away from Colorado.

However, Hagerott said changes could soon be coming to North Dakota contracts, including language about what happens if a president decides to break a contract early.

“I think we could be a little more detailed in that contract, especially a buyout clause. It’s very reasonable, I think, and we probably should have done it before,” he said.

SBHE board member Dan Traynor will chair the governance sub-committee and will be leading the way to potentially change the way presidential contracts are presented in the system. It’s unknown if those changes could be in place by the time the next UND president is selected, however.

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