DSU lost $4M in tuition: SBHE tables Foundation liquidation, bond issue
BISMARCK -- Dickinson State University has lost millions of dollars in tuition, forcing it to make several cuts to its staff. D.C Coston, the retiring president of DSU, spoke Thursday at a North Dakota Board of Higher Education meeting and commen...
BISMARCK - Dickinson State University has lost millions of dollars in tuition, forcing it to make several cuts to its staff.
D.C Coston, the retiring president of DSU, spoke Thursday at a North Dakota Board of Higher Education meeting and commented on the university’s current financial struggles.
He said the school has lost $4 million in anticipated tuition revenue in recent years due to struggles that date back to 2012, when an audit revealed that diplomas were given to international students who did not earn them.
“Any suggestion we’re not efficient would be remiss,” Coston said.
Higher ed board members were scheduled to discuss a proposal for the DSU Foundation to liquidate its assets, including three off-campus student housing apartment complexes, as well as the direction the board planned to pursue in finding Coston’s replacement. Both items were tabled.
North Dakota University System interim Chancellor Larry Skogen has asked for a legislative amendment and a bill in the state House of Representatives so the university could seek $3.5 million in bonds to acquire the properties.
The recommendations come after the DSU Foundation was forced into receivership after Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem found the organization was using scholarships to cover overhead costs. The Foundation’s finances are now under the receivership of Sean Smith, a certified public accountant and partner at Bismarck’s Tschider and Smith law firm.
The Foundation is also being advised to sell Blue Hawk Square, an off-campus living facility on Villard Street, and Hawks Point, a senior living space located on campus.
The agenda items were tabled by the board.
The loss of tuition revenue lingered throughout the Foundation’s financials issues, Coston said.
To make up for that loss, Coston said DSU has cut more than $1 million annually in operational expenses and reduced its full-time employee count by 50.
Elaborating, he said DSU has had an approximately 25 percent increase in employee turnover. While speaking about his concerns about the legislative budget for higher education, he said the university expects more of the same in the coming years.
“I can assure you there will be an increase in employee turnover,” he added.
Coston also called attention to the lack of funding this biennium for the Theodore Roosevelt Center on the university’s campus.
DSU has been working with a planning firm for nearly a year on a concept for a Roosevelt Presidential Library that would be located in Dickinson, possibly on the university’s campus, and would utilize the library’s digitization efforts.
In 2013, the Legislature passed two bills granting DSU $12 million toward the construction of a library as long as $3 million in private funds could be raised by June 30.
“That would be a huge loss for Dickinson State University and, indeed, for the state of North Dakota,” Coston said.