In the wake of scrutiny surrounding his airfare expenses to India, President Dean Bresciani addressed the North Dakota State community in a Listserv on Friday.
The president, former vice president for student affairs Prakash Mathew and Kalidas Shetty, associate vice president for international partnerships and collaborations, traveled to 10 partner institutions in India and Malaysia Jan. 15-26. Travel documents obtained by The Spectrum showed Bresciani’s seating arrangements in business class on eight flights cost $8,293.10.
“While an interesting level of attention (and misinformation) has been focused to my recent trip to India and Malaysia, the trip itself was intended and hugely successful,” Bresciani wrote.
Bresciani’s airfare expenses drew criticism from North Dakota legislators and North Dakota University System chancellor Mark Hagerott, who told The Forum it was an “embarrassment” Bresciani flew business class instead of in coach.
Hagerott also told The Forum he will change policy to require presidents to fly in coach.
“To be using tax dollars to upgrade to these things won’t be part of my policy,” Hagerott told The Forum.
NDUS spokeswoman Billie Jo Lorius said she is “working on some chancellor guidelines for future reference. The chancellor has addressed this particular topic and now hopes that we can focus on students, affordability and budget guidelines as they are released next week.”
Hagerott also told The Forum he would leave the difference between a coach and business class ticket for Bresciani to decide — a difference of about $7,000.
In his email, Bresciani thanked the “private individuals from the community” who offered to pay the difference between coach and business class tickets.
Bresciani said the trip to recruit international graduate students to NDSU “was as intended and hugely succeeded.”
“As you probably know, India in particular faces a stymieing challenge in terms of the number of individuals desiring a college education and the lack of capacity to accommodate them. That challenge only gets worse at graduate levels. Indian and Malaysian students who can navigate the challenges of qualifying to enter and remain in higher education must demonstrate extraordinary academic abilities and we sought to take advantage of that as an opportunity,” Bresciani wrote.
He added the trip had “a three-fold purpose,” including focusing on students already attending universities in India and Malaysia to encourage graduate study at NDSU; to create “collaborative research and scholarly activities between Indian and Malaysian universities with NDSU;” and to continue raising NDSU’s visibility and accessibility in Indian and Malaysian education institutions.
“We are extremely fortunate to work with such supportive collaborators as we address workforce needs in North Dakota and our region,” he wrote. “I want to extend my personal thanks to these generous individuals and to the very many of you who have been so kind in expressing your support over the years.”
The Spectrum was unable to obtain comments from Hagerott.