Could NDSU President Dean Bresciani Be Fired Next Week?

The State Board of Higher Education has scheduled a special board meeting for June 29, and the buzz is that it’s going to be very…interesting.

Per the posted agenda, the board members will discussed a tiered evaluation process for the university presidents, which doesn’t seem very controversial. Basically Chancellor Mark Hagerott wants to stagger the evaluations of the university presidents throughout the year, instead of doing them all in one month, for the sake of efficiency and to ensure that each evaluation gets the appropriate amount of due diligence.

Sounds like a winner to me.

After that the board members will go into executive session to consider new contract terms for the university presidents, and I’m told that while all of the contracts of all of the presidents will be considered (with the exception of Ray Nadolny at Williston State who has stepped down and Mark Kennedy at UND who was just hired) it’s NDSU President Dean Bresciani who is on the bubble.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]I contacted State Board of Higher Education President Kathleen Neset this morning to ask that question and she declined to discuss the subject of the executive session. She did tell me that her priorities are “students first and a unified system.”[/mks_pullquote]

Multiple sources both in the university system and in the legislature have told me that the board is currently split on whether or not to extend Bresciani’s contract which will expire in June 2017. If they choose not to extend him I imagine the next step would begin the process of picking his replacement.

There are public hints that this may be happening. There was a bit of a kerfuffle at the board meeting last week when the consideration of president contracts was taken off the agenda, over the objections of Bresciani supporters. And then there’s that out-of-the-blue letter to the editor from Fargo civic leaders – including Steve Scheel and former Congressman Rick Berg – which has been making the rounds.

The letter sings Bresciani’s praises, though I had to laugh when the first thing they praise the guy for his is ability to…hire good football coaches. Good grief.

What prompts a letter like that, in advance of new contract talks, if these Fargo-area Bresciani boosters aren’t afraid that their man could be on the chopping block?

I contacted State Board of Higher Education President Kathleen Neset this morning to ask that question and she declined to discuss the subject of the executive session. She did tell me that her priorities are “students first and a unified system.”

Bresciani, whose belligerent and condescending attitude toward the rest of the university system and the state Legislature is well documented, would seem to be the chief obstacle currently to Neset’s goals.

There have been persistent rumors for years now that Bresciani has been looking to leave NDSU behind, and has even been job hunting in other states, though if that’s true there doesn’t seem to be any public evidence of it.

My opinion on Bresciani is pretty crystal clear at this point. The man is a cancer in a university system that has made a lot of progress over the last year, under new leadership from people like Neset and Hagerott and interim President Ed Schafer up at UND, and it would be good for both the university system and the state if he’d move on.

After years of scandal and turmoil what the university system needs steady, competent, cooperative leadership. Bresciani simply isn’t capable of providing those things.

Let’s hope that, next week, there are enough board members willing to look past the filibustering from Bresciani’s Fargo-based sycophants to do what’s right.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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