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Published May 24, 2010, 10:59 PM

NDSU Has New President

Texas A&M VP unanimous choice to lead Fargo campus.

By: Dave Kolpack, AP

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The new president at North Dakota State University says he's not going to wait three weeks to start rebuilding the reputation of a school reeling from a spending controversy that cost three top officials their jobs.

Former Texas A&M vice president Dean Bresciani put on an NDSU baseball cap Monday and said he's ready to go, even though he's not slated to take over until June 15.

"I don't think NDSU can afford to wait for its next president to get started officially," he said.

Bresciani, 50, was vice president for student affairs at Texas A&M from 2004-08, where he's an adjunct professor in educational administration and human resources development. He previously served as interim vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of North Carolina from 2002-04.

He replaces Joseph Chapman, who resigned late last year after several projects at NDSU, including a new president's house, went millions of dollars over budget. Most of the money was paid for by private donations, but the school failed to get some work authorized by the state Board of Higher Education.

The board voted unanimously Monday to hire Bresciani, after spending the day interviewing three finalists. The other candidates were John Gardner, a vice president at Washington State, and Gary Miller, provost and vice president at Wichita State.

Bresciani, one of 29 people to apply for the job, will earn an annual salary of $350,000 for three years.

Richie Smith, outgoing president of the higher education board, said Bresciani came highly recommended in a phone interview with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former president of Texas A&M.

"He didn't have to take the call," Smith said of Gates. "He took the call, spent 25 minutes, and the things he told us (about Bresciani) were marvelous. A reference like that you don't discount."

Smith said about Bresciani, "He's a no-nonsense type of guy in a nice way."

Bresciani used the words "re-establish" and "re-instill" when talking about his plans, which include traveling the state to meet people. But he shook his head when asked if the school needed repair.

"Frankly, I don't believe so," Bresciani said. "This is an incredible institution that has accomplished incredible things. We simply need to re-instill people's trust and faith in the success of this university and what it contributes to the state of North Dakota."

Bresciani earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Humboldt State University, a master's degree in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University, and a doctorate in higher education finance from the University of Arizona.

Lynn Dorn, director of women's athletics at North Dakota State, said Bresciani is a compassionate and warm person who enjoys success and winning. The Bison are still a young Division I program in NCAA athletics.

"He understands the value it brings to the university," said Dorn, who was a member of the search committee. "Yet, on the other hand, he also realizes that it is a part of a university system. It's not a stand-alone operation."

Asked if he had a message for staff and students, Bresciani said: "Get ready."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.