Dickinson State Enrollment Scandal Caused By Policies Not Errors
The ongoing saga at Dickinson State University (DSU) continues to be uncovered in a slow and painful way.
Late Wednesday, Ashley Martin at the Dickinson Press broke the news that the previously reported figure of 180 falsely enrolled student was not accurate and that it is, so far, pegged at 213 falsely enrolled students.
From the Dickinson Press:
Though the North Dakota University System originally reported 180 students were incorrectly enrolled at DSU, that number now stands at about 213, NDUS Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Michel Hillman said Wednesday.
The additional people who were incorrectly enrolled were high school students, he added.
Apparently, an entire high school class from Belfield was listed as being college students, when they weren’t.
From there Brian Howell at KFYR-TV shows us email document from September 2010 declaring that counting these false student is official school policy:
The email from DSU`s director of enrollment services to the school`s president in September of last year states:”To enhance Dickinson State head count, these students would enroll for undergraduate credit.”
Those students appear to be high school sophomores, juniors and seniors– not college students.
In a telephone interview last month, the man who wrote the e-mail defended the practice because it was a history symposium about Theodore Roosevelt.
“In this case, that was very appropriate, and it does align with what our standard practice has been.” Norm Coley, Jr., DSU director of enrollment services.
Clearly, if the Director of Enrollment Services is sending out emails stating emphatically that listing non-students to inflate the enrollment headcount is standard policy, there were no mistakes made.
Since State Senator Joe Miller called for a comprehensive investigation very early on, other state legislators are finally standing up and declaring that the truth needs to be disclosed immediately:
“If the goal is transparency, it`s not let`s clean everything up and then let`s start being transparent at a future date and time. We need to be transparent right now,” said North Dakota Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan. ”And again, I`d encourage them to be as transparent as they can possibly be. Today.”
Cook says DSU`s fuzzy math is a concern, and he`s also worried that this type of enrollment enhancement might be practiced at other North Dakota universities.
Cook said: “Ultimately, it`s going to come to the Legislature. You know, any audits that are done, they go before the Legislative Audit Review Committee. They`re going to answer to the Legislature. So, the buck stops with the Legislature, as far as I`m concerned.”
We need more legislators like Senator Cook calling for immediate disclosure.
There is no reason that a state funded entity, like a college, should be allowed to just wait out the investigation. There should not be an adversarial relationship between the investigators and the school.
The most shocking piece of this latest bombshell is the way members of the State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) are handling themselves with the media.
At the end of the KFYR-TV story, reporter Brian Howell asked SBHE President Grant Shaft for comments on this new information.
Grant Shaft responds by saying quote: “No comments from us or anybody who works for us. You don`t have any credibility with us anymore, so we don`t talk to you.”
That pretty much tells us all we need to know about how they intend to handle this situation. Silence the people who work for you. Block all attempts to uncover the truth.
Clearly, they have not figured out the need to drive out fear. Fear of talking by DSU faculty members got us here, and the State Board is making it official policy to keep their staffers afraid.
Things will never change until leadership changes.
That’s about all there is to it.
Dustin Gawrylow is the executive director of the North Dakota Taxpayer’s Association.Tags: dickinson state university, Grant Shaft, higher education, North Dakota News