Embattled NDSU President Dean Bresciani Gets New Contract From State Board

After previously delaying a decision about giving NDSU President Dean Bresciani a new contract, the State Board of Higher Education today approved a one year deal after a closed door session.

Interestingly, the lone “no” vote against the contract came from Fargo-based board member and long-time NDSU supporter Don Morton:

Bresciani had previously signed a two year contract extension in 2015, which ends this coming June. The Board extended that contract this time for just one year, to June 2018.

Anyone familiar with my writings on Bresciani’s tenure at NDSU can probably guess how I feel about this. Bresciani has clashed with multiple chancellors of the university system, has presided over repeated and flagrant violations of state open records laws, and earned the enmity of a vast swath of the state Legislature through his ham-handed political gamesmanship.

The Fargo Forum and the Bismarck Tribune have each editorialized in favor of his dismissal. His continued presence at NDSU will be a detriment to that school’s ability to serve the state, I think, mostly because Bresciani seems little interested in serving North Dakota.

He seems much more interested in serving Fargo-area business interests and schmoozing with big-money NDSU foundation donors. The board today has very likely voted for more chaos and more controversy by extending Bresciani’s contract.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps over the last several months, with his job on the line, Bresciani has learned a hard lesson. Perhaps he will be more honest in his dealings with the public and the Legislature. Perhaps he will now cooperate with efforts to run the North Dakota University System as a system.

Today in an editorial the Grand Forks Herald wrote that Bresciani should get a new contract if he signaled a willingness to participate in a unified university system.

I’m not sure that I agree. I don’t think Bresciani is capable of any such thing. I think board members who voted for a new contract are fooling themselves if they think this will happen.

What I’m afraid will happen is that Bresciani will emerge from almost having lost his job rededicated to advancing the priorities of the parochialism and sports fanaticism which form a toxic fug around NDSU.

I hope I’m proved wrong. I don’t think I will be.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from 1-2pm weekdays.

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