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Brock: A lot of impossible has happened at Dickinson State

Since I moved to my new house three years ago, most of my mornings begin with an hour walk on a route that includes the perimeter of the beautiful Dickinson State University campus. Thursday morning, as I admired the finely manicured grounds, two thoughts came to mind. First, what a great job the maintenance crew does and second, while the outward appearance of the university hasn't changed, internally DSU is far different than it was three years ago.

Three years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine that there were foreign students enrolled who couldn't speak English; impossible to think some of those same students would receive degrees from a state university without completing the required classes; impossible to imagine community members who had attended seminars at DSU were mysteriously listed as full-time students.

Two years ago in September, I sat at a press conference at what was then the Badlands Activities Center and listened as DSU President D.C. Coston revealed the transgressions listed above and thought it impossible that they started and ended in the two short years of his predecessor Dr. Richard McCallum.

I found it impossible to believe that former North Dakota University System Chancellor William Goetz and anyone east of Dickinson had no idea what was going on at DSU.

Ignorance is bliss, but it was impossible to imagine reports -- even before McCallum's time -- that Chinese students, who couldn't speak English, were using translation technology to cheat when taking tests, which was reported to The Press by students and faculty and went unheeded, never reaching anyone outside of the campus.

Later that month I found it impossible to believe that Chancellor Goetz reasserted that no similar violations occurred at other state universities with similar enrollments and growth expectations to those at DSU.

I hope the acting chancellor, Bismarck State College President Larry Skogen, is correct in his assertion that it would be impossible for DSU to lose its accreditation. Two years ago, I wrote an editorial about how critical to the economy, education needs and quality of life DSU is to Dickinson and western North Dakota. With the recent oil boom, it is more important than ever.

Thursday morning as I lapped the beautiful campus I found myself hoping that DSU, in its current form, will always be there.

I know the best way to support and preserve DSU is for our community to never take the university for granted, and insist that those responsible are doing everything possible to return DSU to its former self.

Brock is the publisher of The Dickinson Press. Email him at