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Speech outlined request for more legislative money

Joseph Chapman laid out his case for a larger share of the state budget Thursday, saying NDSU offers a "huge" return on the state dollars it receives.

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Joseph Chapman laid out his case for a larger share of the state budget Thursday, saying NDSU offers a "huge" return on the state dollars it receives.

During his sixth State of the University address, the college president referred to a new report that shows NDSU's growth during his five-year tenure has created an $828 million economy impact on the state.

His comments offered a preview of what state lawmakers can expect to hear when the Legislature convenes in January.

"We're going to be telling this story," he said after his address. "We're a different university, and we think we're a tremendous asset to the state of North Dakota, and we think we're worthy of investment."

The cash-strapped 2003 Legislature cut the general fund appropriation to higher education by $9.6 million.

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Now, with the state estimating a $116.4 million surplus next June, NDSU and other colleges are seeking a fatter slice of the budget pie.

Chapman helped make the case for NDSU with an economic impact report prepared by the university's Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics.

The study shows that in the past five years, for every additional dollar in state funding NDSU received, it obtained $7.50 from other sources such as grants and donations.

Building projects were a big part of NDSU's growth in the past five years, with capital improvements totaling $83.8 million, the report said. Enrollment growth also has added to the Fargo-Moorhead economy, with the average full-time student spending $8,000 per academic year.

The report used a multiplier effect to arrive at the figure of $828 million total economic impact. Business sectors that benefited the most from NDSU's growth included retail, construction, finance, insurance and real estate, the report said.

Chapman attributed much of the school's impact and success to the flexibility provided by the Legislature and the 2001 Roundtable on Higher Education.

Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, who sits on the Roundtable, said NDSU is a prime example of how campuses can serve as economic engines for the state.

A planned $6 million business incubator in the NDSU Research and Technology Park should further boost the public-private partnerships that match NDSU students with good-paying jobs, he said.

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Flakoll said he'll push for more funding to raise NDSU to a level closer to its peer institutions.

"They've just done wonderful things, and because of that, we need to reward success," Flakoll said.

NDSU is one of three schools in the North Dakota University System funded at a level less than 50 percent of its peers, which include Kansas State, Utah State, Clemson University and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

Chapman said NDSU needs nearly $8 million in additional state funding to reach 55 percent of its peers' funding.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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