North Dakota State president offered 18 more months on job
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani on Tuesday was offered 18 more months at the helm, after which he would step down to become a tenured professor, according to terms of the contract.
Bresciani was given a noon Wednesday deadline to sign the terms laid out by the state Board of Higher Education, which met behind closed doors for more than four hours during its meeting in Bismarck to discuss contracts of university and college presidents. Bresciani was not available for comment, a school official said.
Asked whether the decision was mutual, board chairman Nick Hacker told The Associated Press that Bresciani had “input into the contract” and he expected the president to sign it. Hacker was not specific on what led to the decision to the one-time contract that ends on Dec. 31, 2022.
“You’re in between two goalposts, contract renewal and non-contract renewal, which some would interpret as a firing,” Hacker said. “That didn’t happen and his contract is longer; 18 months, not one year. Additionally... he was awarded tenure. I see this as a culmination of working together in the best interests of the institution.”
Bresciani will be engaged in the search for a new president “which is not normal,” Hacker said.
Bresciani’s performance review was not made immediately public. Hacker described it as a “lot of very positive things and some areas that were challenging.”
Hacker told the board he credited Bresciani for his “phenomenal leadership” in “stabilizing NDSU’s financial picture” that included record fund-raising and extensive renovation and construction on campus without adding debt. He said the president has a strong rapport with students and the community.
“Student engagement has been a high priority for him and his leadership on campus during his 12-year tenure,” Hacker said.
The board’s lone student member, North Dakota State University student Erica Solberg, was the lone dissenting vote over Bresciani’s contract. Bresciani remained tight-lipped as the board and other presidents and attendees gave him a standing ovation.
Bresciani took over as the Fargo school’s president in 2010. Before that, he was vice president for student affairs at Texas A&M University, as well as a professor in the department of educational administration there.
Bresciani survived an earlier dust-up with the board in 2016 over what some viewed as his desire to raise enrollment rather than improve graduation rates, for flying business class on a recruiting trip and for his handling of a controversial plan on media guidelines for athletics. The board laid out an improvement plan for Bresciani and delayed approving his contract for six months.
The school’s Faculty Senate in February voted to censure Bresciani for bypassing the typical hiring process for provost. After the top finalist for the job was not able to start at the expected time, the NDSU president bypassed the other finalists and selected the interim provost.
Bresciani will be paid $371,380.38 in the first year and receive the same annualized rate in his final six months of his tenure.