NDSU Still Using And Abusing Private Airplane
Over the last year I’ve been extremely critical of North Dakota State University’s use of a private airplane to fly university officials around the state. I think it’s a wasteful extravagance, and certainly a perk these university officials ought not be getting at a time when they claim (erroneously) that their university is underfunded and at a time when students are getting nailed with huge tuition increases.
Responding to the criticism, NDSU President Dean Bresciani claimed that the plane is actually a cost saver. That it’s generally only used when full, and only for in-state travel. But recent use of the plane tells a different story.
For instance, the university’s plane has made several out of state trips over the last few weeks to places like Bemidji, Minnesota and Sioux Falls, South Dakota according to the FAA. In fact, a flight plane for the aircraft was just filed for a trip from Fargo to Sioux Falls today.
Also, earlier this month a flight plan was filed for a trip from Fargo to Bismarck which took place the evening of Friday, December 2nd. Curious as to what sort of official business could possibly be conducted among government bureaucrats late on a Friday evening, I requested some information from the flight from NDSU.
According to Matthew Hammer, Legal Assistant in the Office of the General Counsel, there were just three people on that flight: Duane Hauck, Director NDSU Extension Service; Ken Grafton, Interim VP for Agriculture and University Extension; Bruce Rafert, Provost. They were traveling to attend the North Dakota Rural Leadership graduation ceremony. So not only was the plane flown less than half full, but it was used so that these officials could attend what amounted to a party with taxpayers footing the bill for the flight and for the pilot(s) to sit around waiting for the big-wigs to get done with their schmoozing.
When President Bresciani was interviewed in the media about the use of the plane he made it sound like they were going to be regulating the use of the plane. But according to answers provided by Mr. Hammer to my request, “The only written policy NDSU has regarding the plane is a policy designed to avoid scheduling conflicts when the plane is used for charter services.” Meaning there is no written policy as to how university officials use the plane.
Again, in this modern age of free video teleconferencing and online collaboration, do we really need to be flying these university officials all over the state? And how can we continue to trust university officials who tell the public one thing, and then quietly do another thing confident that the sympathetic media (with whom they have a mighty advertising budget) ignores this abuse of tax dollars? Not to mention student tuition dollars?
North Dakota’s higher education system needs reform. Badly. We need to end the independence of the university system. Because it’s clear that these people cannot govern themselves.Tags: dean bresciani, higher education, NDSU, North Dakota News