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WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 15, 2009, 01:34 PM

Rally planned for NDSU President who resigned amidst controversy

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - NDSU students are planning a big event to thank President Chapman for his service to the school, this after he announced his surprise resignation amidst several spending controversies at the school. Students from the past and present will lead a rally next week. The event is still in the works.

By: TJ Nelson, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - NDSU students are planning a big event to thank President Chapman for his service to the school, this after he announced his surprise resignation amidst several spending controversies at the school. Students from the past and present will lead a rally next week. The event is still in the works.

So far, speakers will share their memories of Chapman and the historic impact he's had on them and the campus. There had been talks of a petition to try to keep him here. Instead, leaders want to show Chapman they care about him and maybe their support will change his mind.

“We’re sad to see him go and should he choose to stay, we're here and we'd love that, but we're not going to try and pressure him to make a decision to stay in an environment that may not be welcoming by all.”

The event will be at the ballroom at the Memorial Union on campus next Wednesday night at five. It is open to the public.

On a day we hear for the first time from NDSU President Joe Chapman about his sudden retirement, a bit of irony. Chapman led tours today of the new president's house. A project that started a string of criticism and scrutiny that led to his retirement announcement.

An army of students showed up at the house in support of Chapman who earlier in the day told WDAY 6 News the snow ball affect of the new house, the D.C. trip and more got to be distractions for him and NDSU.

“When the job becomes not fun, then you want to do something else and this has not been fun.”

President Chapman and his wife Gale plan on moving to Colorado after the first of the year.

We are getting a clearer view of the cost overruns for the president’s new home. The original agreement was set at around 900-thousand dollars. The final cost is well over 2 million dollars.

A report prepared for tomorrow’s state board of higher education meeting says President Joseph Chapman and his wife pressured builders to finish construction by June, which led to large cost overruns.

The report says a committee overseeing construction of the home deliberately chose a design that would cost more than $900,000 and included a so-called bonus room.

Chapman's wife, Gale, was a member of that oversight committee. A cost summary shows construction on the home cost 1.3 million dollars. Compare that to the cost of the new president’s home at UND at just over 9-hundred thousand.

Landscaping, concrete and parking work ran another 350-thousand at NDSU, compared to 165 thousand at UND. The difference in furnishing and appliances for the residences is astounding: 155 thousand at NDSU compared to just 48 thousand at UND.

The homes were financed by a large 2 million dollar donation to the universities by Forum Communications owners Bill and Jane Marcil. The Forum owns WDAY, but university reserves were used to finish each home. The state board, tomorrow, will look into the cost overruns at the homes and at Barry Hall.

Some board members and lawmakers expressed concern about the university's credibility amidst all these financial questions.

“The Board of Higher Ed asked years ago for the flexibility of the roundtable and with that we were to get accountability this is an example of how we just got half the equation.”

Carlson says lawmakers are anxious to see what comes out of tomorrow's Board of Higher Ed meeting in Fargo where there will be more details of the new president's house, Barry Hall, and other money issues involving the alumni board.

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