Starting in 2011, SAB exposed the fact that North Dakota State University was spending extravagant sums of money on a private airplane for the use of university officials. Ironically enough, the most common use of the airplane at the time was to shuttle NDSU President Dean Bresciani back and forth to Bismarck so that he could tell legislators how underfunded NDSU is.
Anyway, the legislature took it upon itself to study the use of state aircraft in order to see if more oversight was ready. NDSU attempted to avoid the study by misleading legislative council as to the ownership, but ultimately the plane was deemed state-owned and was included in the study which found that, because of the plane, NDSU was paying 400% above market rate for air travel.
It seemed, for a while, that common sense had won the day. But when I learned earlier this week that new legislation creating a management system for oversight of state aircraft exempts the university system, I began to wonder if NDSU really was going to sell it.
Not so much, it turns out. According to records obtained from NDSU yesterday (see below), they did market the plane for sale, and there was apparently some interest, but according to university officials it’s not for sale right now.
“The plane is not being actively marketed at this time,” Mimi Monson from NDSU’s General Counsel’s office told me in an email. “The plane is still being used by the university.”
So, in summary, when NDSU was getting a lot of heat over the airplane they said they were going to sell it. Except, now that the heat is off, they’re not selling it. Oh, and there’s legislation proposed that would ensure the use of the airplane never has to come under the scrutiny of mere elected officials ever again.
If there’s one thing you can say about North Dakota’s higher ed officials, they’re relentless. And shameless.