Last week on January 30th, during a meeting of the State Board of Higher Education, North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani stood up to make a report to the board. After making a crack about how he can’t win any aviation awards because he doesn’t own an airplane (UND President Bob Kelly had reported before him and highlighted such an award that had been given to his university), Bresciani told the board that everything was “perfect” at his university. “Everything we touch is turning to gold,” he said.
I’d post the video, but the university system still hasn’t made it available as of this morning.
There are a lot of things at NDSU that most reasonable people wouldn’t consider golden these days, many of them discussed earlier in the very meeting of the SBHE Bresciani was addressing. Board members talked of issues like graduation rates, remediation rates and other problems which weren’t acceptable. But Bresciani, it seems, is entitled to his own version of reality.
Today the Fargo Forum has a report about another situation that is anything but golden. According to reporter Cali Owings, NDSU is paying Dean of Libraries Michele Reid over $300,000 in salary and benefits to go away. Reid, who has accused the university of discrimination (and been accused herself of unprofessional work conduct and creating a hostile work environment), will get $290,000 in salary over the next two years while she finishes her doctorate plus another $20,000 for “research and travel” and an office stocked with supplies.
As the article notes, it’s not unusual for big organizations to settle these sorts of situations rather than litigating them in court (it’s often cheaper whether the accusations have merit or not), but it is unusual for the accuser to get to keep working at the accused organization for years after the settlement.
Plus, according to the article, NDSU has been doling out a lot of money to settlements with employees:
Since 2009, a dozen others negotiated settlements with the school for separation pay, benefits, leave hours and reimbursements for health insurance and retirement contributions – a total of $415,200, not including reimbursement payouts for health benefits or retirement contributions, which are private.
Reid’s negotiated salary of $290,000 is more than any employee who settled with the school in the last five years, including former President Joseph Chapman.
That is not a “golden” situation, whatever fertilizer Dean Bresciani may be feeding the SBHE, and we should ask ourselves: What in the world is going on at NDSU to justify so many settlements for so much money?