Dickinson Press' Top 10: No. 4: Rocky year for DSUFrom controversy to tragedy and back to controversy, this past year has been a rocky one for Dickinson State University.
By: Dickinson Press Staff, The Dickinson Press
From controversy to tragedy and back to controversy, this past year has been a rocky one for Dickinson State University.
D.C. Coston was named the school’s new president in January after he filled the interim role following the firing of the school’s previous president, Richard McCallum. McCallum was let go after allegations surfaced that he played a role in the inflation of enrollment numbers.
Not long into February, the school’s planned Confucius Institute was canceled, “due to unforeseen circumstances,” school officials said at the time.
Just days later, an audit found that DSU had issued unearned degrees to mostly Chinese students. According to the audit, more than 743 students were involved, 120 of which were enrolled at the school at the time of the audit’s release.
That same day, DSU’s then dean of the college of education, business and applied sciences Doug LaPlante was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in a park near the university.
Prior to the discovery of LaPlante’s body, the school evacuated non-students and requested students return to their dorm rooms due to reports of a gunman on campus. Officials stuck by their response to the incident, though some people questioned why students also were not evacuated.
School officials said LaPlante’s death had no connection to the audit.
As a result of the audit, DSU was placed on “notice” regarding its accreditation. The accreditation board will review the findings of a visit and a recommendation report in November to determine if further action is warranted.
Following the audit, though school officials said not in connection with it, many administrative and other key personnel resigned, retired or were terminated. Coston told legislators that seven senior administrative positions changed and 13 other personnel changes were made.
It wasn’t all bad for DSU in 2012. The school found new housing for students in Blue Hawk Square, which opened along Villard Street in late August. The school also reported a 65 percent acceptance rate in June, though by fall DSU’s enrollment numbers were down.
And this month, a survey of DSU faculty showed a drop in employee satisfaction across the campus. The report, released with plenty of information redacted, showed that employee satisfaction from 2010 to 2012 dropped 14 percent.
Editor’s Note: This story is the seventh in a series of The Dickinson Press’ top 10 stories of the year. Previously on the list:
5: Tragedy in New Town
6: Small western ND cities see economic, housing boom
7: Rents double, triple; housing construction industry taking off
8: Dry conditions lead to months-long burn bans, wildfires
9: Property tax bill shot down, Heitkamp beats Berg in election
10: Controversy with Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy