FARGO - Donors will cover the cost difference between a coach ticket and the business class one North Dakota State president Dean Bresciani recently purchased for a recruiting trip to India and Malaysia, according to an email distributed on campus.
Bresciani has been under fire for booking a seat costing $8,300 in business class. A round-trip seat in coach would have cost between $1,000 and $2,000. While Bresciani didn't break any policy, North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott called the upgrade an "embarrassment."
Bresciani refused comment on the situation Wednesday through a university spokeswoman, but sent a campus-wide email Thursday addressing it, among other items.
"I have been informed that private individuals from the community have volunteered to pay the difference between coach and business class," Bresciani wrote. "We are extremely fortunate to work with such supportive collaborators as we address workforce needs in North Dakota and our region."
A university spokeswoman said the donors wish to remain anonymous.
Bresciani made the trip to recruit students for NDSU's graduate programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It was his first international trip in six years at NDSU. In the email, Bresciani said the trip had three purposes: to encourage students already attending Indian and Malaysian universities to consider graduate study at NDSU, at both master's and doctoral levels; to encourage collaborative research and scholarly activities between Indian and Malaysian universities and NDSU; and to elevate NDSU's visibility and accessibility in those countries.
"While an interesting level of attention (and misinformation) has been focused to my recent trip to India and Malaysia, the trip itself was as intended and hugely successful," Bresciani said.
Bresciani said NDSU was already receiving interest from Indian and Malaysian students before he left Asia.
"Before we left for the 23 hours of flight time home from Malaysia, we were already receiving application inquiries from a wide range of potential future students," he said. "Similarly, faculty we'd met with were being introduced to potential scholarly partners here. In short, the trip was a home run not just for NDSU but for our entire state."
Bresciani also addressed North Dakota's dire budget forecast and the effect it might have on NDSU. He said there's little doubt state agencies will face mid-biennium cuts, but expressed confidence the school will weather them.
"That, of course, is never good news, but NDSU is in arguably the best financial position it has been for decades if not its entire history, and we anticipate being able to accommodate the situation with much less felt consequence that many of our sister institutions," Bresciani wrote.