Dickinson State Scandal Indicates Larger Problems In Higher Education
The developing drama regarding “fake students” at Dickinson State University is a symptom of a bigger problem in higher education. There has been a culture in higher education that rejects any suggestion that there is a problem with the way things are being run.
When I attended Dickinson State, one of the well known rumors was that then-president Lee Vickers utilized university kitchen staff to cater private non-school dinner parties. It was so well circulated, it was pretty much considered to be common knowledge around town.
In the last month of so, prior to the breaking of the enrollment fraud story, some of my contacts on-campus in Dickinson started passing along information regarding financial irregularities, and the general mood on campus. There was even chatter on campus about how the Faculty Senate on campus was persuaded not to issue of vote of no-confidence towards president McCallum – (persuaded by Chancellor Bill Goetz himself).
None of this was reportable as no one was willing to go on record and potentially put their career on the line. It is likely that these financial irregularities are connected to tuition that was not collected from the “fake students.”
Even more interesting is that the Board is only singling out President McCallum, but as the Dickinson Press editorial points out, he obviously didn’t act alone.
“The reputation of an institution which brings students and faculty from around the globe to our community is tarnished.
But why is it that these “students” are the ones who reported being enrolled and not someone behind the scenes at DSU?
The report shows, “staff was pressured to engage in unethical, suspect or wasteful activities to meet demands.”
And though “interviewees suggest that the leadership on campus has created a culture where controls and best practices are often disregarded,” how could not one of the staff members aware of this situation blow the whistle? They knew it was wrong and yet didn’t let someone at the state university level know. Pick up the phone and tell them anonymously.
More than President McCallum is at fault.”
There is a problem in higher education. This situation is likely to be glazed over as quickly as possible and people will forget about it.
There are many legislators that have long stuck their necks out in attempts to fix the problems at North Dakota’s University System. They have been shouted down at every turn, and attacked for being too old fashioned.
Hopefully this latest situation reinforces their zeal to fix these problems.
Dustin Gawrylow is the director of the North Dakota Taxpayer’s Association.Tags: dickinson state university, North Dakota News, richard mccallum