North Dakota President Promotes Participative Decision Making

Photo  New UND President Mark Kennedy

The University of North Dakota President Mark Kennedy put together an 18 member committee to recommend $1.4 million dollars in cuts to the UND athletic department. They were asked to carve out at least 2-4 teams from their athletics department and consider a new conference affiliation. The committee convened a meeting of coaches and teams in a public forum where the various sports programs begged for their program survival.

The committee voted to not cut any teams. After the decision, Kennedy said he already had “95% of the answer in my head” but wanted broader ownership so the committee can validate, “what I already knew.”

The delegated decision-making model has worked so well that Kennedy is using twitter to make everyday decisions:


Kennedy is so fond of transparency, openness, and collaboration that he now uses twitter to make nearly all campus decisions. Everything from his schedule and agenda to his personal life.

When his wedding anniversary was fast approaching, he asked his twitter followers if his wife Debbie should get a surprise party. Unfortunately, Debbie follows him and was prepared when he took her out to the Ground Round Restaurant. When patrons jumped out from behind booths and yelled, “Surprise”, Debbie shook her head and said, “Not really”.

“Even if things are obvious, I want buy-in and transparency. I call it participative transparent decision making. I should trademark that,” said a beaming Kennedy. “Being a college president can be difficult and I want our constituents to own the gravity of our decisions.”

When asked why asked what are the key decisions remaining in front of UND going forward, he said, “We’ll have to vote on that one!”

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