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Updated: NDSU president resigning

FARGO - North Dakota State University President Joseph Chapman has resigned from the university effective Jan. 2.

Citing "recent controversies," in a letter to North Dakota University System Chancellor William Goetz, Chapman wrote that he could no longer provide the leadership the university deserved.

"Controversies in recent days have created distractions that have made it impossible for me to provide the leadership this institution deserves," Chapman wrote in his resignation letter. "Students have always been paramount, and I fear these distractions have impaired my ability to serve their interests."

Chapman, who has been NDSU's president for 11 years, said serving as NDSU's president was the "greatest privilege of my academic career."

State legislative leaders and higher education officials have questioned the rising cost of a president's home that was built this past year on the NDSU campus. Originally authorized by the state Legislature to spend $900,000 to build a new home for Chapman on the university campus, NDSU foundation officials have revealed recently that the cost of the house has topped $2 million.

Questions also have arisen regarding the cost overruns at other recently completed NDSU building projects.

Also, in recent days, Chapman's compensation and benefits have come under fire. The NDSU foundation announced that it was ending the practice of paying the president deferred compensation, setting a cap on a presidential discretionary expense account that previously had been unlimited and ended paying for flights Chapman would take on the university plane.

Mark Meister, president of the NDSU Senate, said faculty were shocked when they received an e-mail this afternoon alerting them to Chapman's resignation.

Faculty were disappointed to learn that Chapman spent $22,000 of NDSU foundation money on a January trip to Washington, D.C., Meister said. And they also were disappointed to find out that Chapman's wife, Gale, was drawing a $50,000 salary from the NDSU foundation.

However, he added, the faculty recognize that Chapman has changed the culture and climate of NDSU, Meister said.

"I know he's been beaten up a lot, he deserves a little more support and credit," Meister said.

Chapman has agreed to talk to The Forum on Thursday morning. He agreed to speak with the Associated Press today.

NDSU Spokeswoman Najla Amundson said Chapman was not pressured to resign by anyone.

When he called Chancellor Goetz today, the chancellor expressed surprise and disappointment, Amundson said.

"This was his decision; he and gale's decision," Amundson said. "The distractions, he believes, have gotten in the way of him being able to do what's best for the students of NDSU."

North Dakota State Board of Higher Education President Richie Smith said it's a sad day for North Dakota.

"When people sit back and they look at all of the accomplishments that Joe had at NDSU, these recent controversies will pale in comparison in my opinion," Smith said. "Anybody coming in is going to have big shoes to fill. I hope we don't rue the day."