- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani says private donors have volunteered to help pay for his recent business class flight to India.

Bresciani flew to India this month in part to recruit students and rode in business class rather than coach, which North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott called “an embarrassment.”

Grand Forks Republican state Sen. Ray Holmberg, who has a powerful voice on higher education funding as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also criticized Bresciani, saying the airline upgrade sends the wrong message when lawmakers are preparing to slash funding due to a downturn in the oil industry.

Bresciani hasn’t talked publicly about the flight, but wrote in a campus email sent Thursday that private donors have volunteered to pay the difference between the business class ticket and coach. The business class ticket cost $8,300. It wasn’t clear what a coach ticket would have cost.

“We are extremely fortunate to work with such supportive collaborators as we address workforce needs in North Dakota and our region,” Bresciani said in the email. “I want to extend my personal thanks to these generous individuals and to the very many of you who have been so kind in expressing your support over the years.”

Bresciani did not identify the donors.

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