Bismarck Tribune: Bresciani Misled on Sanford Deal Which “Hurts the State” and “Made NDSU Look Bad”

The editorial board at the Bismarck Tribune got it mostly right today backing up lawmakers who are pushing to scrap a sweetheart nursing school deal NDSU President Dean Bresciani handed to Sanford.

“It looks like NDSU was so eager for a nursing program that they signed off on an agreement favorable to Sanford,” the paper notes in an editorial. “It not only hurts the state, but it makes NDSU look bad.”

Quite right.

The editorial also notes that Bresciani misled the nursing students about the Legislature’s intentions, and that it was a mistake for him to purposefully exclude lawmakers from the decision on the deal:

Last week, NDSU President Dean Bresciani sent an email to interested parties suggesting the Legislature planned to kill the nursing program. That wasn’t the case. During a hearing last week legislators told Bresciani and Sanford to negotiate a better deal for the state. It’s something that should have been done in the beginning, but Bresciani apparently didn’t want to involve the Legislature. That was a mistake.

I wrote about this deal back in 2014. I even posted video of the meeting where Bresciani specifically declines to include state lawmakers in the decision despite it being clear that the Legislature would eventually have to appropriate dollars to help pay for the school’s operations.

“I think it probably should happen, but as we bring a new college into our system it involves public dollars. Should we bring our legislature in to make a determination on this?” SBHE board member Kathy Neset asked at the time.

The answer from Bresciani? Who needs lawmakers!

“I don’t believe we go to the legislature asking for a special accommodation for this,” he responded.

What the Tribune left out is Bresciani’s relationship with Sanford. At the time this decision was made Bresciani was on the Board of Directors for Sanford in Fargo. Then-Chancellor Larry Skogen had a seat on a similar Sanford board in Bismarck, and SBHE member Don Morton was on Sanford’s Board of Trustees.

Those conflicts were disclosed during deliberations over the deal before the SBHE, but in light of how lopsided this deal ended up being in Sanford’s favor, they’re still an issue of concern.

The NDSU faithful always wonder why I give Bresciani such a hard time.

The answer is nonsense like this. Sanford got a sweetheart deal negotiated by a public official who was, at the time, on one of their boards. And that public official, Bresciani, specifically declined to involved lawmakers in the deal when everyone knew they’d eventually have to appropriate money for the school.

That’s just inviting trouble for NDSU.

Why do Bresciani supporters want a President for their school who causes so much trouble for it?

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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