NDSU President Dean Bresciani Finally Figured Out How to Keep His Mouth Shut

North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani speaks at a presidential search open forum Jan. 12 on Ohio University's campus in Athens, Ohio. Submitted photo.

It wasn’t a surprise at all that, after a year of basically being put on probation, NDSU President Dean Bresciani got his contract renewed.

He has been “chastened” one higher ed insider told me months ago. After years of fostering a belligerent relationship with state lawmakers and even his superiors in the university system, the formerly blustery Bresciani seems to have figured it out.

Almost losing your job will do that.

Realizing that there aren’t all that many job opportunities waiting for you in other states, at other universities, will also bring you back down to earth.

Bresciani’s problem has always been an enormous ego allowed to grow in the hot house environment of Fargo/NDSU parochialism. For most of his time in Fargo, Bresciani has approached his duties as president as though NDSU was a sort of city state. An entity unto itself, not necessarily beholden to people like lawmakers.

Or chancellors.

Or the Board of Higher Education.

But that attitude, even as politically-connected alumni and powerful Fargo area business people went to bat for him, nearly saw Bresciani cast aside in favor of a more cooperative and collaborative sort of leader at NDSU.

It seems that message has finally penetrated the cloud of smug Bresciani has been immersed in since arriving in Fargo. If it results in him finally being the leader the State of North Dakota needs at NDSU, then that’s to the good.

Old habits die hard. If they resurface Bresciani should know that his leash isn’t nearly so long as it was before.

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 noon-2pm weekdays.

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