Higher Ed Board Deals With Unruly President By Only Giving Him $10,000 Raise


Last month I broke news about an audio recording of the State Board of Higher Education who were discussing, surprisingly candidly, problems in the university system. The conversation took place during a supposedly open meeting (though board members asked the public to leave the room) and included criticism of one out-of-control university president that, while not named, is known to be NDSU President Dean Bresciani.

“From my observation you’ve got…one president in particular who is striking out on his own,” consultant Tom Meredith told the board members (audio here). “You’ve got another one or two, but one in particular that seems to be on everyone’s mind. That’ll have to be dealt with at some point in time.”

Meredith continued: “In any organization if you’ve got someone who is not in the organization can never move forward.”

Flash forward to yesterday when the State Board of Higher Education considered pay raises for the university presidents. Chancellor Larry Skogen proposed a 4 percent pay raise for Bresciani. The SBHE decided to teach Bresciani a lesson by only giving him a 3 percent race, which works out to be about $10,000 per year.

Because that’ll show him.

Skogen first proposed a 4 percent increase for Bresciani, a move that aimed to keep the president’s earnings in the 80 to 120 percent range of other presidents’ salaries at colleges with College and University Professional Association certifications of “very high research activity.” NDSU has this certification; UND does not.

A 4 percent increase would have brought Bresciani’s salary to $347,584 for 2015; the 3 percent increase brings it to $344,241. The board approved the latter.

It’s worth noting that NDSU President Dean Bresciani has been fighting the State Board of Higher Education over the unification of the systems administrative emails on the basis that he doesn’t trust system employees to respect his privacy. NDUS Vice Chancellor Lisa Feldner has said “that lack of trust runs both ways,” in response to Bresciani’s objections.

Also, in an evaluation earlier this year, Chancellor Larry Skogen warned Bresciani that he has been given a lot of “latitude” under the current university governing structure and that a lack of support for the university system might result in a change (voters will cast their ballots on a measure to replace the board of higher education in November).

Bresciani is also widely acknowledged to have been the ringleader in the push to drive out former Chancellor Hamid Shirvani whom the board had put in place to more authoritatively govern the universities, something the university presidents resented. Bresciani has defied the Legislature with regard to his use of a private airplane (because he can’t be expected to drive back and forth to Bismarck during the legislative session like some peasant lawmaker), and his university has a horrendous track record on open records violations including the very real possibility that Bresciani deleted emails rather than turn them over to the Legislature.

In fact, I caught Bresciani’s office trying to cover up a cushy hunting trip that a state Legislator/building contractor who does millions in work for the universities took him on.

One state legislature has called on Bresciani to resign. Another lawmaker says he’s had to wait months to get information from NDSU pertaining to the controversial purchase of a nursing college.

Yet Bresciani still got a $10,000 per year raise, mostly because bureaucrats presiding over similar universities in other states make more.

And that’s everything that’s wrong with North Dakota’s university system.

Here’s documentation for the raises all the presidents got.

NDUS President Raises