It seems the leadership in the North Dakota University System is starting to show some backbone. NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott has condemned the first-class plane ticket North Dakota State President Dean Bresciani bought for his recent trip to India:
FARGO, N.D. (AP) – The head of the state university system says the president of North Dakota State University should have flown coach on a recruiting trip to India and plans to change the rules to keep it from happening again.
Chancellor Mark Hagerott says NDSU President Dean Bresciani did not break higher education board policy by getting business class tickets, but Hagerott says it’s an embarrassment for a public servant.
I think Hagerott is letting Bresciani off the hook a bit when it comes to the rules – more on that in a moment – but here’s a key statement from the Associated Press report: “he discovered that all of the other presidents fly coach for business meetings.”
There’s the rub. Bresciani’s time at NDSU has been replete with stories about fiscal hypocrisy. Bresciani used to take his university’s private airplane – at a cost of thousands of dollars per flight for NDSU students and taxpayers – so that he could travel to Bismarck and complain to state lawmakers about how underfunded his university is.
So underfunded, apparently, that Bresciani enjoys the services of a personal body guard and chauffeur.
NDSU apologists in the media were quick to claim that Bresciani’s $8,300 luxury plane ticket to India was just a molehill that the embattled president’s political enemies were blowing up into a mountain, but that ignores Bresciani’s pattern of living high on the hog at the expense of his institution even as he claims that institution is poorly funded.
And I think it’s clear Bresciani did violate NDUS policy which only authorizes reimbursement for “tourist or coach fare” which is “purchased at the lowest reasonable rate available.”
But whatever. Hagerott gave Bresciani the scolding he richly deserves, and the policy will be changed.
Hagerott’s review also puts lie to the claim that Bresciani is such an important executive at NDSU that he simply must travel first class – something we dumb rube critics just don’t understand – when he points out that not one of our state’s other university presidents travel first class.
Hell, our governor doesn’t even travel first class, unless he pays for the upgrade himself.
Bresciani was in the wrong. Kudos to Hagerott for not backing down.