North Dakota State University's Research Ranking Downgraded In Preliminary Carnegie Release

ndsu north dakota state university NDSU president dean bresciani

Recently the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education released a preliminary version of their latest rankings of research institutions, and it appears as though North Dakota State University saw a downgrade in its status.

The Carnegie Classification is a big deal. The higher education bureaucrats, including NDSU President Dean Bresciani himself, chatter about it all the time.

On Bresciani’s official website he writes, “We are proud to be our state’s first and still only institution to be named to the top category of the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.”

Former university system chancellor Larry Skogen wanted pay for the state’s university presidents tied to the Carnegie classification. In an August 2014 memo sent to members of the State Board of Higher Education he suggested that the presidents get pay raises to bring them in line with the media pay of presidents at institutions with similar classifications. For Bresciani, specifically, Skogen wanted a more than $25,000 per-year pay increase. “Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen recommended the increase based on NDSU’s ranking as an institution of ‘very high research activity’ by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, even though the college has held the title since 2011,” the Grand Forks Herald‘s Anna Burleson reported on August 19, 2014.

But now it seems NDSU’s ranking has fallen from “very high research activity” to merely “higher research activity.” Here’s NDSU’s ranking for 2015 from the Carnegie website, where you can see that the school got a “higher research activity” classification. According to the organization’s definitions page (they’ve changed the verbiage of the rankings somewhat) that’s an R2 ranking down from the top R1 category. For what it’s worth, NDSU now has the same ranking as UND.


This is a no good, very bad development for Bresciani, preliminary though it may be. Even if it changes in the final rankings, the fact that NDSU was even on the cusp of losing its top-tier research ranking is a major blow to Bresciani’s resume as a higher education leader.

His current contract entitles him to his more than $330,000 per year salary through June 30 of 2016, and word from higher ed circles is that Bresciani – angry that former Governor Ed Schafer is now making more than he does as the interim president at the University of North Dakota – was counting on a big raise. In no small part based on this ranking.

But with this news, and other problems Bresciani has created for himself including an ugly relationship with state lawmakers, it seems the pay raise should be out the window and we should be discussing whether or not his contract ought to be renewed at all.