Legislative bodies among North Dakota State support extending President Dean Bresciani’s contract.
On Wednesday, faculty senate president Kathryn Gordon reported 81 percent of respondents affirmed a resolution supporting Bresciani.
On Sunday, student senate also passed a resolution in support of extending Bresciani’s contract with a 27-0 vote, with two abstaining members.
These resolutions mirror the staff senate’s letter of approval sent this summer.
Resolutions were not passed without discussion, though.
This was the third consecutive week in which student senate discussed the resolution. Before discussion began, student body vice president Anuj Teotia said to senators that when they vote it’s not just for themselves, but for their 450 or more constituents as well.
Student senator representing the residence halls Nate Thoreson said if the resolution passed, it would show the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education the student body, through student government, supports Bresciani. He added if a resolution were not to pass, it could end Bresciani’s career as well as his drive to do good for NDSU for the remainder of his contract.
“He’s done nothing but a good job when it comes to the budget cuts,” Thoreson said.
Faculty senate’s resolution also cited budget woes and Bresciani’s leadership during “the current critical finacial challenge.”
Unlike student senate, faculty senators voiced and voted with dissent. Minutes indicate a failed motion tried to halt the resolution.
It failed by a 24-17 vote, with two senators abstaining.
Faculty senate also amended its resolution to state it would send the resolution if Bresciani received more than 67 percent of the vote. It initially had a 75 percent threshold. That amendment passed with a 31-10 vote, with a senator abstaining.
Sydney Arends, student senator from the College of Health Professions, said the national average for a college president to be in office is eight years, and Bresciani is currently at about five and a half years. She added as she is trying to get an expansion of Sudro Hall pushed through the legislature, Bresciani’s leadership is needed to work with lobbying in Bismarck.
“President Bresciani, as we all know, is great with students,” Arends said. “His job is to make students want to be here … to make NDSU a great place to be.”
Roll call voting to end discussion on the resolution occurred twice, with the first unable to obtain a 50 percent majority.
Calla Harper, a student senator representing the residence halls, said though her constituents want to see better communication between Bresciani and his colleagues, she doesn’t want a blogger to “run our college for us,” referring to Forum Communications blogger Rob Port and his stance at removing Bresciani.
The Forum’s editorial board called for Bresciani’s removal earlier this summer.
Senators Asif Arshid and Eduardo Faundez, both representing graduate studies, abstained from voting. Arshid said in discussion of the resolution that his constituents have no opinion on Bresciani. When talking to his constituents that have attended NDSU since former president Joseph Chapman was in office, though, he said they think Bresciani is doing a good job.
In response to Arshid, Arends said if constituents don’t have an opinion, that should not be constituted as a no vote but rather an abstention. Vice chair of the senate Brendan Curran added that voting senators should use their best judgment for their constituents.
Thoreson said if NDSU wishes to spend money on expanding Sudro Hall and other projects, it should do that more importantly than instead of spending the same money on hiring a committee to find a new president. He added that the timing now is “especially bad,” and that “this is a really bad year for it to happen.”
Executive finance commissioner Mason Wenzel said from a financial structure, keeping Bresciani around keeps things more stable.
Amendments to the senate resolution were passed without objection prior to discussion on the resolution. Those amendments included changing senators Kim Ellwein and Nate Thoreson’s names to have proper spelling as well as removing the word “fully” from resolution, as the senate concluded that saying full approval would have to constitute a unanimous vote in favor of the resolution.
Student and faculty senates will send their resolutions to the SBHE to affirm their support of Bresciani.
Bresciani had his contract renewal delayed earlier this year, with the SBHE citing communication problems on his behalf.
This summer, a short-lived media policy was implemented and subsequently revoked under Bresciani’s watch.
The SBHE will determine Bresciani’s contract in November.