- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - The state Board of Higher Education said Wednesday it won’t give pay raises to any of the college presidents and is delaying its decision on whether to extend the contract of North Dakota State University president Dean Bresciani.

Board members said they struggled with the pay issue but decided against increases because of the state’s financial woes. Many of the presidents - along with the university system chancellor - had already decided they would not accept raises.

“Quite frankly I would love to give pay raises but we are facing perhaps the tightest fiscal conditions in decades in this state,” chancellor Mark Hagerott said during the meeting in Bismarck.

After voting to extend the terms for seven of the eight presidents who were eligible for contract extensions, the board said it would not vote on Bresciani’s contract until November. The motion said the board would review the NDSU president’s progress on meeting goals on teamwork, communication, collaboration, information technology and research.

“I think the work is good. I think there is also work to be done to address the issues that were brought up in the motion,” said board chair Kathleen Neset.

Bresciani was not available for comment, but NDSU vice president Laura McDaniel said in a statement that the president “continues to be a strong proponent of the successful and unified system in North Dakota.”

Bresciani received a mostly positive performance review earlier this month from Hagerott, but the chancellor said the NDSU president’s decision to cut a new research initiative “causes me some concern.” The review also questioned Bresciani’s “communications and teamwork” with the Hagerott, the higher education board and senior members of the university system staff.

“As our presidents are servant leaders to our state, I look forward to your continued effort in this area,” Hagerott wrote.

Hagerott had publicly criticized Bresciani in January for flying in business class on a recruiting trip to India, calling the move an embarrassment.

The board voted to extend the contracts through June 2018 for presidents Steven Shirley from Minot State, Gary Hagen from Mayville State, Tisa Mason from Valley City State, Larry Skogen from Bismarck State, Doug Darling from Lake Region State and John Richman from North Dakota State College of Science.

Incoming University of North Dakota president Mark Kennedy and outgoing Williston State president Ray Nadolny were not eligible for contract extensions.

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