Fargo Forum Has Bresciani Emails, But May Not Have All Of Them


Some of NDSU President Dean Bresciani’s emails have been released by North Dakota State University – not, interestingly enough, the North Dakota University System office – to the Fargo Forumand not, again interestingly, to Legislative Council or the legislators who requested them in the first place, and the Forum is claiming “no stinging revelations.”

But I don’t think this is a full disclosure. The legislators I’ve spoken to are expecting over 6,000 emails to be sent for them. It appears as though the Forum only got a couple of thousand.

Some of the emails the Forum received “expressed his disdain for Shirvani, his staff and officials from other North Dakota universities,” according to the Forum, but they’re not making the emails available yet. So we aren’t allowed to judge for ourselves what is “stinging” and what isn’t.

But even what little the Forum reveals looks bad for Bresciani:

An email NDSU Vice President for Finance and Administration Bruce Bollinger sent to Bresciani in late November, offering feedback on the president’s draft of a campus update letter. Bollinger pointed out that Bresciani didn’t reference Shirvani’s “Pathways to Student Success” plan for North Dakota higher education.

“You don’t want to inform the world that you are not recognizing the Chancellor’s proposal,” Bollinger wrote.

Remember, the narrative from the university system and their apologists in the media is that Shirvani was canned because he was a bad manager, not because the university presidents hated him and his reforms (reforms, I’d remind readers, that the SBHE claims to still be behind). Yet, Bollinger stating that Bresciani isn’t “recognizing the Chancellor’s proposal” tells a much different story that has at least one of the university presidents making it clear that he had no intention of being governed by the SBHE and the chancellor.

If he wasn’t so politically well-connected, with the Fargo-area politicos and media at his back, Bresciani would lose his job over that.

And then there’s this: “NDSU found 1,950 pages of emails that should have been sent to the Legislative Council.”

That’s almost 2,000 pages of open records that were requested but not turned over. That means the AG is almost certainly going to rule that open records laws were broken. The question is, will NDSU be able to spin it as something inadvertant rather than purposeful?

If it was purposeful, that’s potentially a felony and people are going to lose their jobs. If it was inadvertent – and that’s really, really hard to believe at this juncture – then people get slaps on the wrist and life goes on.

But again, I don’t think this is a full disclosure. Given the discrepancies between what the legislators are waiting for, and what the Forum is reporting, this seems like a selective release.

Update: I originally wrote that the emails were turned over to the Forum and not Legislative Council, but that was a mistake. I misread the article.

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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  • joe mauer

    Would you like some salt and pepper with that crow?

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      What crow?

      NDSU turned over thousands of emails that should have gone for the initial request.

      • Bubba

        Dude, what happened with the walmart thing in Minot? Should have been an easy deal, I frankly don’t get how it didn’t happen.

      • SOURCE

        Keep digging, Rob – obviously, the emails that have not been turned over detail the use of NDSU researchers to create a mind control ray that has been used on members of the legislature, the Board of Higher Ed, our governor, the media, and the innocent taxpayers – all to hold on to money and power.


      • RobertD

        My source tells me the emails for the legislative request were processed by the IT staff and turned over to NDSU in a single file at NDSU’s demand so they could review and redact the files prior to sending to legislative council. There was not anything overlooked. Either Bresciani or his legal counsel Chris Wilson chose not to turn over most of the emails in the file. One or both should be charge with a felony and both should be fired if true.

  • David

    Can anybody say “trying to make something out of nothing”??? If you want to criticize Bresciani (and you apparently do) you need to find something real to talk about.

    • Confused

      How can you claim Rob is “trying to make something out of nothing” when he is trying to find out the truth whether Bresciani purposefully tried to destroy 45,000 emails which coincidentally disappeared the same time an open records request was made? Carrying all that corrupt NDSU water must be wearing down your shoulders!


    Clearly, our higher ed system has had difficulty with the open records legislation – and it is challenging for Rob and anonymous legislators to easily perform the muckraking that is required to properly shame NDUS and its members. Implementing the following immediately will be beneficial to all parties:

    – All NDUS employee communications open at all times. Want to find out what Bresciani had for lunch? Listen to his phone conversations? See what he’s watching on Netflix? ALL OPEN – in a Google-searchable index – from the system chancellor down to the janitors and student work-study students. Hell, the NSA probably even has that data now – why shouldn’t you have it too? It’s YOUR university system!

    – When possible, NDUS employees should not wear clothes – for greater transparency!

    – All university presidents must provide a live webcam feed AT ALL TIMES and include their GPS coordinates. No longer will Rob have to fill an open records request just to find out what Bresciani is wearing!

    Only by boldly implementing these measures can we purge NDUS of corruption and get the university system we all deserve.

    • Confused

      You’re delusional.

    • Drain52

      Even so. Let’s not track anything our esteemed university presidents are doing but keep shoveling gobs of tax money into their maws. Minot wants to open its university to the world for in-state tuition rates? No problem.

      Dickinson University cranks out fake degrees for hundreds of Chinese students? What’s not to like about this kind of corruption–didn’t they pay at least some tuition and swell the university’s rolls?

      Only an ornery crank would take advantage of state laws meant to keep public officials honest. Better to let the law books get covered with dust while assuming nothing but the best of intentions and competence from university officials.

      Other than the Forum licking the dirt that the higher education system walks on, particularly NDSU, can anyone think of a reason why the emails were released to it? I say, give ‘em hell, Rob.

  • joe mauer

    You’re like that puppy that keeps chasing it’s tail.

    • Confused

      You’re like that fool that keeps circling corrupt NDSU’s wagon.

  • Confused

    This entire email saga is so strange. Why has it still not been publicly determined who deleted Bresciani’s 45,000 emails? It doesn’t make sense that it takes this much time to determine the digital footprint of who did what. Then the media reported that 6,000+ of the 45,000 deleted emails which pertained to legislative council’s request should have originally been turned over in the original request but weren’t. Now only 2,000 of the 6,000+ email batch are released to the public? The math doesn’t add up here.

  • speakinmymind

    And nobody points out the fact that we have gone from 45,000 emails thought to have been hid to just 6,000. Perhaps things need to be better sorted out yet before any further assumptions are made.

    • Say what!

      Legislative Council and NDUS system personnel called Bresciani’s 45,000 emails into question. It’s normal to make assumptions based on facts such as these http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/kvly/KVLY/pdf/Stenehjem%20Letter.pdf

      Would you prefer we stop thinking for ourselves and simply take corrupt NDSU officials and their apologists word for it? That wouldn’t be healthy nor rational in my view.

  • Rob Port

    Sure, shoot the messenger. The arrogant attitude from you university apologists is why we are where we’re at.