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DSU: Resignations, audit unrelated

A solitary student walks by May Hall on the Dickinson State University campus Friday in Dickinson. That same day, DSU President D.C. Coston released the results of an audit that essentially described the school as a diploma mill for students of the special international programs. Doug LaPlante, the school's dean of the college of education, business and applied sciences, was later found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in a nearby park.

Three Dickinson State University higher-ups, who called it quits just before the results of a major university audit was announced, handled numerous admission and transcript-related proceedings for international students who received unearned degrees, North Dakota University System Chancellor William Goetz said Tuesday.

Goetz added that "from the time of admission to the time of graduation," Jon Brudvig, Steve Glasser and Marshall Melbye had a hand in processing university business for the international students.

"When we look at the responsibilities that those individuals had, they had responsibilities in terms of admission, review of transcripts, all the way to the signing off of degrees for those students of which we have issues with," Goetz said. "I do know that there were interviews conducted by our internal auditor with those individuals."

DSU President D.C. Coston said Brudvig, former vice president of academic affairs, resigned Thursday, one day before Coston announced the results of the audit. He also said Steve Glasser, former Strom Center executive director, walked away two weeks ago. Melbye retired "late last calendar year," Coston added.

Coston admits he did not expect the employees to drop out of the game, especially in a timeframe so close to the audit. But he has faith their intentions to leave were unrelated to the school's recent degree fiasco, during which the audit showed serious issues with the files of 743 students who participated in the special international programs.

"My preference is to take people at their word until I see some reason not to," Coston said.

Goetz said glitches in DSU's international student programs were brought on by the school's former president, who was fired last year for his role in inflating enrollment figures.

"Certainly what triggered this was the matter and issues surrounding President (Richard) McCallum," Goetz said. "Unfortunately, it was a situation that grew and was magnified by those kind of pressures and those kind of priorities that were placed on the campus and on the employees under his administration."

At the moment, Goetz is mostly concerned that the university "gets back on its feet."

Coston wants to reignite the morale of the campus community.

"I've been worried more about our students, our faculty and staff, about Doug LaPlante's family, about people here," Coston said.

Coston also wants to help international students feel welcome, as the audit has damaged their reputation.

"They bring a vibrancy and diversity into our student body, and, frankly, the Dickinson community," he said. "We've been talking with them this week to be sure that they know that they are treasured parts of our community."

Goetz is unsure whether more employees will quit. He added that Coston will have the ability to fire any employees found to have been involved with the admission of students with insufficient credentials.

The Press placed calls to Brudvig and Melbye on Tuesday, both of which went unreturned. A number believed to belong to Glasser has been disconnected.