2013 NDSU Airplane Lobbying Efforts Tally: $21,653


Despite legislative expectations that NDSU would be selling their airplane, they haven’t yet and instead are using it to fly back and forth to Bismarck to lobby legislators for bigger budgets.

NDSU officials routinely complain that their university is underfunded, but that’s a little hard to buy given how much money they spend on private flights to and from Bismarck to tell that sad-but-not-very-accurate story.

In the first week of the legislature “Air Bison” made a trip to Bismarck and Back, costing an estimated $8,400 (based on the AP’s estimate of hourly flying costs for the plane).

This week NDSU has used the plane to make two trips to Bismarck and back. According to the FAA, a trip to Bismarck and back again on January 22nd took about 1.46 hours. This morning’s flight to Bismarck took about 54 minutes. Assuming a roughly 45 minute return trip, we come up with $13,253 in travel costs to and from Bismarck this week.

Adding that to the cost of the first week’s trip, we come up with $21,653 in travel expenses for NDSU and other higher education officials to travel from Fargo to Bismarck and back three times.

But remember, according to the editorial pages of the Grand Forks Herald and Fargo Forum, this is just cost-effective travel for our oh-so-important higher education officials.

Because spending tens of thousands in airplane costs to save a few hours of travel for a group of pampered bureaucrats is cost effective in the world of higher education apologism.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • HideFromObama

    Lets say El Presidente makes $300K/yr. At 40 Hrs/week normalized, he makes about $144/hour + 30% for benefits, means his time cost is $188/hr. He only saved 4 hours with each trip, which in labor savings is now what, $750? Thats really not an offset to that cost of flying him around. If you load that plane with 6 or 7 similarily paid individuals, now you are maybe approaching $4500-$5000 in time savings for one flight, or 1/4 of the total cost. However, I understand the expenditure for an airplane for time management. Many companies own airplanes and just soak the cost because they feel the time management makes the investment worthwhile. Point being, NDSU has an awful lot of other areas getting missed in this discussion that will add up a lot more money alot faster than hounding on an airplane. Having been a student there, there sure were a lot of “Assistant to the Assistant” crap going on and inefficient processes that would sure save a boat load of money. Don’t even start on the fact that if professors had to carry a full class load every day similar to a primary school teacher you might see half or less of the professors needed on campus-especially 100-level classes not in a specialty. i.e. why can’t an engineering professor teach an entry level math class? Why can’t an accounting professor teach an entry level business class?

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      This airplane is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a cost saver. It is an extravagance.

      Remember, the legislature found that chartering flights when the university needs them would cost something like 400% less than what they’re paying to lease the airplane on a permanent basis.

      Nor is the airplane the only spending problem I’ve covered at NDSU. I’ve written extensively about administrative bloat at the university, and in the university system as a whole:


      Check out the chart showing instructional vs. non-instructional teaching positions at NDSU. Instructional positions are going down as administrative positions go up and enrollment grows.


      • HideFromObama

        I agree it’s not a cost saver, I showed that . I don’t think it’s a cost saver for any entity that owns their own airplane. Private individuals included. NDSU seems to be putting a “time saving” factor on there beyond the labor cost savings, which I have no problem with in concept-if they want an airplane and feel it is worth it’s use, fine. But, like any business, you have to keep your profits high enough to afford that airplane while keeping the investors happy. In the case of NDSU, if they want to justify their plane, fine, but they need to make cuts elsewhere to show they are serious about spending only what they bring in. But why should they cut? The Federal Government doesn’t have to cut and will keep a guarantee on cheap money for students to keep spending high dollar tuition amounts. Where is the State of ND (who regardless of structure ultimately fund and control the universities) to order an external audit from an contracted business auditor of their choosing? Or better yet, why isn’t Treasure Schmidt’s office auditing the expenditures going out to the university system? There could be screws put down that aren’t being done. Ultimately, the borrower is slave to the lender, and in the case of ND’s universities, the State of ND is financing the endeavor-THE STATE should be browbeating this. President B. and other university presidents are simply playing the game to get what they want for themselves and their colleges. I think this is a failure on the Governor to flex his muscle and force the issue. Give them at least that President Brescaini didn’t fly to an inaugaration this week in that plane.

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          The problem with time savings is tjat it supposes traveling to the legislature to testify and report isn’t a part of their jobs.

          • HideFromObama

            Yes, I would agree with that. I don’t see why the Presidents can’t report to the Chancellor and let him do the lobbying in Bismarck-similar CEO lobbying to his/her board of directors. You don’t see some lower executive (typically) reporting to the BOD at a major corporation-inside normal business processes anyway, which I would say asking for more money has become for the colleges.
            I still contend we should get rid of half the state funded universities.

  • ec99

    This all started when university presidents stopped seeing themselves as academics (none of them have taught a course in decades) and believed they were the equivalent of corporate CEOs, and as such deserving of all the same perqs. Since the genie has long been out of the bottle, don’t expect any changes in their sense of entitlement.

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    But they have PhD.s and having them makes ND look smart.

  • devilschild

    First of all I just want to say that the Fargo Forum and the GF Herald are not reliable news sources. Frankly I find them both to an example of extremely poor journalism. But this is what you get when one media outlet buys up most of the news outlets in one area. I could go on and on … but it depresses me.
    So the NDSU president saves a little time by flying…not much…but some. What does he do with that time to make flying a justifiable expense? I seriously doubt it is much. I would guess he returns to Fargo and calls it a day.

    • ec99

      I see that Jacobs got tired of people reminding him of what a rag he put and got rid of all comments…without any preannouncement.