The editors of The Spectrum urge the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education to extend President Dean Bresciani’s contract Wednesday.
For the university’s sake, the SBHE must set aside its qualms and power struggles with Bresciani.
Now is not the time to hit the reset button.
Yes, Bresciani has baggage. But he also has experience and leverage, something an interim president wouldn’t have during a pivotal legislative session. Dark days loom large in North Dakota, with further budget woes seeming unavoidable. Bresciani helped make North Dakota State’s first round of cuts relatively painless, and he’s the only practical choice to help NDSU forge ahead.
Looking back, Bresciani has earned his stripes during his six-year tenure. Rising enrollment. New buildings. Increased national recognition. NDSU is flourishing. How much success can be attributed to Bresciani is debatable, but we wouldn’t start betting against him. We believe Bresciani is the best advocate to secure funding for Sudro Hall and Dunbar II this session.
Don’t just take our word. Perhaps most tellingly, the president has garnered support from student, faculty and staff senates. There is no coup in Fargo, a la University of North Dakota in 2015.
We are, and we want our say in the matter to be heard.
We haven’t drank all the Kool-Aid. We recognize Bresciani is an imperfect leader.
We didn’t need a SBHE review to tell us he isn’t the best communicator. His personality doesn’t jive well with our stoic Scandinavian humility. His handling of internal fiascos — including this summer’s media kerfuffle and an email scandal that’d make Hillary Clinton blush — has raised eyebrows.
But these aren’t deal breakers, at least not today. For the sake of our university, we echo the faculty senate’s final whereas statement and resolution:
“To continue to pursue its mission, NDSU requires the continued administrative leadership of President Bresciani based on shared governance, especially during the current critical financial challenge NDSU has and will face in the next biennium.”
We, too, back Bresciani.