North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani has come under fire for a $7,000 seat upgrade on his recent trip to India. University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott said Bresciani charging such a lavish expense to the university was “an embarrassment.”
He is absolutely right about that, but more embarrassing may be the way Bresciani is handling the situation now that he’s back in Fargo. Instead of apologizing, which is what someone with more character than Bresciani possess would do, he’s firing back at his critics.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Bresciani is a public servant. These anonymous private donors are spending money on specific perks for him. What’s the relationship between Bresciani and these donors?[/mks_pullquote]
“While an interesting level of attention (and misinformation) has been focused to my recent trip to India and Malaysia, the trip itself was as intended and hugely successful,” an unapologetic Bresciani said in a campus-wide email sent out yesterday.
Worse, Bresciani says private donors are going to pick up the $7k for his first class seat upgrade.
“I have been informed that private individuals from the community have volunteered to pay the difference between coach and business class,” Bresciani wrote. “We are extremely fortunate to work with such supportive collaborators as we address workforce needs in North Dakota and our region.”
Don’t you think private donations could be put to better use at NDSU than pampering Bresciani with luxury travel accommodations?
The students at NDSU are being asked to approve a 35 percent fee hike on themselves. Resident tuition at NDSU and UND has grown by nearly 50 percent over the last decade, and state taxpayer appropriations to NDSU have more than doubled. Back in 2014 the universities were reporting over $808 million worth of deferred maintenance issues, with things so bad at NDSU’s Harris Hall that researchers there had no running water. They’re forced to lug the water in from elsewhere.
But sure, let’s spend thousands of private donation dollars on Bresciani’s first class ticket, because he obviously couldn’t pay for it out of his $334,215 per-year salary.
Here’s another problem: Bresciani is a public servant. These anonymous private donors are spending money on specific perks for him.
What’s the relationship between Bresciani and these donors? Are they people who do business with the university who might benefit from buttering up Bresciani?
We don’t know, and that’s a big problem.
Back in 2013 I was able to uncover, through open records requests and a complaint filed with the Attorney General’s office, that NDSU had tried to cover up a hunting trip state Senator Lonnie Laffen had taken Bresciani and then-UND President Robert Kelley on.
Laffen is also an owner of JLG Architects which does millions upon millions worth of business with the universities. The justification NDSU used to cover up Laffen’s identity in the emails discussing the trip was the exemption for donors.
Which illustrates why it’s important to understand who is paying for Bresciani’s luxury travel arrangements.