DSU continues educating: Interim vice president of academic affairs selectedWhile the events that unraveled at Dickinson State University on Feb. 10 were disturbing, students, staff and faculty are taking the opportunity to “grow together and grow stronger,” officials said Monday.
While the events that unraveled at Dickinson State University on Feb. 10 were disturbing, students, staff and faculty are taking the opportunity to “grow together and grow stronger,” officials said Monday.
“The thing that is heartening to me is that I have walked around campus today, I have seen classrooms full of students,” said DSU President D.C. Coston. “I have seen faculty in front of them putting forth the energy and effort that they do, and learning is under way at Dickinson State as it should be.”
Friday was a dark day for the university as officials released an audit casting the school as a diploma mill and as one of the university deans took his own life.
Prior to an evacuation order given when authorities believed a gunman was near or on campus, Coston released details of an audit showing serious issues with the files of 743 students who participated in the special international programs, including handing out degrees to students that did not earn them.
Later that day Doug LaPlante, DSU dean of the college of education, business and applied sciences, was found dead in Memorial Park from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Classes at DSU resumed Monday morning. Coston met with students for two hours to talk about the audit. Counseling was also available Monday and will remain available for the next three days.
Jon Brudvig, DSU vice president of academic affairs, resigned Thursday to “pursue different avenues,” Coston said. Steve Glasser, Strom Center executive director, also resigned to pursue another career.
Coston was not aware of any other resignations.
DSU has not started its hiring process to fill the open staff positions.
“At this moment, our efforts are on taking care of the concerns and worries of folks,” Coston said. “We are also spending a lot of time with our students, making sure that they are well taken care of in all ways possible.”
DSU has asked Richard Brauhn of Dickinson to serve as the interim vice president of academic affairs, a position he filled from 1997 until his retirement in 2010.
He accepted and started Monday.
“I’m glad I have the opportunity to come back and help the university, but I’m really sad it is under such dire conditions, especially with the loss of Dr. LaPlante,” Brauhn said.
LaPlante was a personal friend of his, which made the situation worse, Brauhn said.
“It’s one thing for the institution to be in trouble,” Brauhn said. “When you have a person who basically committed suicide and was well-known and well-liked by the community, it’s really tough.”
Brauhn said DSU has a strong staff. He added the audit was not a reflection of DSU’s history but rather a “blip” which it could get past.
“The foundation of the institution is very solid,” Brauhn said. “I have three kids of my own that graduated from here, and I wouldn’t be hesitant to send them back to school here.”
While life is far from returning back to normal, one student is confident it will someday.
“It’s going to be a tough time, but we are heading in the right direction,” DSU junior Erik Arnold said. “Coston is the right guy for the job, and I think everyone is supportive.”
Coston said the community has been supportive of DSU, showing they care about the university.
Coston said he wrote in a letter Saturday morning that “with the support of everyone … DSU will prevail.”
“My wife always says you can always count on the students,” Coston said. “What I have seen is these kids have stepped up. They’re hurting. They’re learning some things in life, and that life at times is not pretty, but they’re rock solid.”