Letter: Former professor: DSU rep on the lineI was a faculty member at Dickinson State University for 13 years (1990 – 2003) so I knew Doug (LaPlante) fairly well. In fact, I was a member of the faculty committee that interviewed him when he applied for a job as supervisor of student teachers for education majors.
I was a faculty member at Dickinson State University for 13 years (1990 – 2003) so I knew Doug (LaPlante) fairly well. In fact, I was a member of the faculty committee that interviewed him when he applied for a job as supervisor of student teachers for education majors.
I still have good memories of many of the thousands of students I served in my classes and respect for much of the staff and faculty at DSU.
Although I valued my time at the institution it was, candidly, a very challenging place to work. Not all, but the majority of the students at the time would have done well at most any other institution of higher learning, so students were rarely problematic. During my tenure, there were a number of highly qualified, dedicated faculty members although there is above-average turnover.
The major problem at the institution was administrative. A former chancellor once described the university as “a rat’s nest.” A former president consistently reminded us that education is a business that serves customers and the most profitable businesses have the most customers. Evidently that philosophy still exists.
But education is not a business. Healthy, well-run universities exemplify mutual respect and communication among the four constituencies — students, staff, faculty and administration. This was never the case during my 13 years there. It was a heavily top down approach. Administrators seemed to have viewed the institution as their personal fiefdom. There was distrust tantamount to paranoia between faculty and administration with the implied and understood adage, “If you don’t like it then leave.”
Although there were written policies and committees designed to fairly resolve misunderstandings, those policies and committees were basically meaningless. If there is to be a legitimate investigation into this tragedy, the investigative committee must dig more deeply than relying on reports from DSU administrators. The committee must have private and confidential conversations with faculty and staff — even former staff and faculty — if they truly want to unravel the events and procedures which, over time, resulted in this situation.
After all, the reputation of DSU and accreditation of its programs, even the North Dakota University System, are on the line. The current Chancellor, (William) Goetz, was once a faculty member at DSU so it could happen, but after 13 years at DSU I’m not overly optimistic. And, if anyone objects, they can just leave.
David W. Alford, Ph.D.,
Professor of Psychology,
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