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 Forum –
and 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.