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Rep. Roscoe Streyle, Minot, N.D., Published November 28 2013


Recently, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem found that open records laws were violated when tens of thousands of North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani’s emails weren’t turned over by the university system to comply with a legislative open records request. Stenehjem was unable to determine whether Bresciani deleted those emails purposefully to keep them from the Legislature, but his opinion states that this is the belief of university system leaders.

In light of this damning opinion, it’s time for Chancellor Larry Skogen and the state Board of Higher Education to be leaders and do what they should’ve done months ago: fire Bresciani immediately.

Bresciani wasn’t qualified for his position when hired for it, having been asked to resign from his previous position in Texas. Since coming to North Dakota, he has proved to be a failed and ineffective leader. His bloated salary and benefit package – not to mention his ego – hasn’t served the students, faculty or the taxpayers of North Dakota well.

Former university system Chancellor Dr. Hamid Shirvani could not have been more accurate in his assessment of Bresciani in his annual review, noting that he hadn’t created “a clear vision for the future of NDSU.”

Bresciani has increased enrollment at NDSU, but at what cost? The nonteaching administrative staff has increased to a record level while the number of instructional staff has stagnated. The increase in student enrollment can be attributed to heavy reliance on out-of-state students and a large amount of tuition waivers costing taxpayers and students tens of millions of dollars in additional expense.

After the fiasco over NDSU’s private airplane, which Bresciani has schemed to keep the use of through a deal with an NDSU alumnus despite the Legislature’s request that the plane be sold, trust in Bresciani is low. Add to that email policy violations, dismal graduation and retention rates, and now an open records law violation and we have a clear picture painting Bresciani as anything but an effective leader.

Other emails disclosed in the past indicate that Bresciani was a malefactor during Shirvani’s tenure as chancellor, actively working to undermine the former chancellor’s leadership and policies. It’s becoming clearer every day that Shirvani was absolutely the right person at the right time to lead the North Dakota University System, and that university leaders like Bresciani are the real problem.

I would hope Bresciani would do the right thing and offer his resignation. Once someone loses the trust and confidence of the people, they must be replaced for the betterment of the university system and the state.

Bresciani has only himself to blame for this deception and dishonesty, and I again strongly urge the chancellor and Board of Higher Education to remove President Dean Bresciani now if he will not pay us the courtesy of resigning on his own.

Streyle represents District 3 in the North Dakota Legislature.