If Issuing Hundreds Of Phony Degrees Doesn’t Lose You Accreditation, What Good Is Accreditation?


Earlier this week I linked to a Dickinson Press article by reporter Brian Horwarth about the possibility of Dickinson State University losing its accreditation when the Higher Learning Commission meets later this year.

As you readers know, DSU got caught issuing hundreds of phony degrees to foreign students, something for which nobody outside of former President Richard McCallum has been held accountable. McCallum, who I guess we’re supposed to believe pulled of this fraud by himself, was merely fired.

Horwarth’s article quoted a newspaper editor in West Virginia who covered the HLC’s decision to remove accreditation from Mountain State University. “If I’m Dickinson State, I would be nervous,” he told Horwarth.

That article prompted angry denunciations from DSU officials and North Dakota University System Chancellor Larry Skogen who called the idea of lost accreditation “impossible.”

I’ll leave it to you readers to decide what’s “impossible” or not as far as the HLC’s process goes, but maybe the question we should be asking isn’t could DSU lose accreditation, but should it lose accreditation? After all, what good is accreditation at all if an institution can issue hundreds of phony diplomas over the course of years and keep it despite holding exactly one person accountable, with no more than a termination of employment?

The HLC’s criteria for accreditation requires that “The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.” Yet, Dickinson State acted in about the least ethical way a university can, besmirching the reputation of the diplomas it exists to grant, and they get to keep accreditation?

It seems North Dakota’s higher education officials would rather the DSU scandal go away as quickly as possible. But the public deserves better than that.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    Maybe the accreditation committee is going to put them on double secret probation.

  • Roy_Bean

    If they don’t lose accreditation then we should really start selling degrees on Ebay.

    • headward

      With the right business plan, Higher Ed could break even and not need bailout money every year.
      Getting money from the state every year to keep them running, imo, is bailing out a failing business model.

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        Which is a real testament to just how poorly managed the universities are, given growing enrollment, a K-12 system that is pushing students into state universities and a nationalized student loan system that will give financing to anyone regardless of fiscal or academic qualifications.

        • AD_Rtr_OS

          Bib Sis will show us all how it’s supposed to be done when she takes the reins at UC.

  • Say What

    Skogen put his foot in his mouth. He said it is ” impossible” DSU to lose accreditation BUT higher learning commission, DSU acad affairs vp, and senate majority leader wardner all said it is possible. What a circus! Also very disappointed to read Skogen’s letter to the editor yesterday by which he unfairly attacked reporter Bryan Horwath for doing his job. Skogen must be taking a page from the Bill Goetz media relations bully tactics playbook.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      The university system like to come down hard on anyone in the media doing any sort of critical reporting or commentary.

      • Say What

        They do! Grateful you don’t back down Rob. Also believe Mr. Skogen should publicly apologize to Mr. Horwath. Skogen’s misguided attempt to publicly discredit Horwath with that inaccurate letter to the editor warrants an apology from the chancellor.

      • Ted Kennedy’s SEARCH+RESCUE

        They’ll NEVER report this youtube.com/watch?v=OwEbO_t30cg

  • Aristotle120

    Folks, let’s face it. Just about all the degrees handed out these days are fraudulent. The kids come out way stoooopider than they went in, and broke, to boot. Higher education has become a major scam.



  • Kelly Lieberg

    InstaBOOM !

    • Leroy Huizenga

      Yup. Rob’s about to get the InstaLanche.

  • Robert T

    Graduates of their program might have standing to sue, as the university’s actions have cause a dilution of their products worth.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I’ve wondered about that. Obviously a bow to the school’s reputation diminished the value of the degrees, even those honestly earned.

      Can the students get damages?

  • Eric

    Nervous, hell no, start looking for other employment. Nothing to be nervous about, they will lose their standing as an institute of higher learning and thus we will only have 10 to support in ND. Oh, the constitution of ND says it must stay open?????? What to do then??

    • RCND

      They could turn into a well-positioned VoTech right where it is needed… in the middle of the oil patch where the real need is for people with technical training.

      But that would make sense

      • Eric

        That’s a great idea and well needed. Should be done anyway.

  • moron

    Hey, all of these guys are liberals. Eric Holder will hold you racists accountable if you vote to revoke accreditation. He knows the IRS political appointees very well also. And the EPA guys! Want some FBI too? It makes no difference if there are no minorities in North Dakota, this is another institution of indoctrination.

  • Steve White

    Chancellor Larry Skogen who called the idea of lost accreditation “impossible.”

    I do not think that word means what you think that word means…

    I would hope that the sale of fraudulent degrees would cause not only a revocation of accreditation but also criminal investigation by the state attorney general and a grand jury, along with hearing at the state House of Representatives. I would also hope that there would be frequent coverage by the local and regional news with an emphasis on ferreting out who is responsible. A cigar-chomping editor should be sending out teams of reporters to get the story, and a boozy executive producer should be screaming at his camera crews for new footage for the six o’clock news.

    I shall also hope for a pony…

    • RCND

      Such stories would conflict with hard news like what concert is playing at the Civic Center, what businesses are coming to town, and what neat project is happening in an elementary school classroom

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      We are a year and a half out, and to date no charges.


  • DelawareBeachHouse

    North Dakota Constitution identifies Minot, Mayville, Valley City and Dickinson as normal schools, i.e., teachers’ colleges. Perhaps they could be downsized to their original responsibilities?


    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Downsize? Yeah right. Mention that and the academic elite will treat you like a philistine.

      • DelawareBeachHouse

        Oh, heck, I’m a conservative. They already treat me like a philistine.

  • Say What

    Larry Skogen isn’t the brightest bulb. Heck his school named Bill Goetz alumnus of the year this spring, after Mr. goetz largely oversaw the self destruction of North Dakota’s university system! Birds of a feather flock together. http://www.bismarckstate.edu/alumni/awards/

  • rouxdsla

    Southern University in Louisiana had a grade selling scandal a few years back. After a short investigation and a few heads rolling it was as if it had never happened. IMO they realized how bad the scandal was and how many degrees they’d have to rescind.

  • Olaf

    Cut off the Money! I quit giving a single dollar to DSU’s foundations, scholarships or any elective funding. I don’t attend the ball games and I stay away even thought I am a DSU graduate. I’m ashamed of my diploma being degraded buy some still-employed skunks! My graduate degrees from other out-of-state institutions make me proud–not DSU.
    Accreditations are like toilet paper–gotta have some handy to clean up the mess!

  • WOOF

    I still say this is an immigration $cam.

    Hundreds of phony degrees, jobs, green cards. Big money.
    Find some foreign “graduate” who positioned them self into the defense industry,
    or the spy industry, the military, yell terrorism.

  • Say It

    Phony degrees are the same type of degrees, that you can get out of a Cracker Jack Box.

  • ND Observer

    “impossible!: says Larry Skogen (!?) Perhaps the HLC has the final word on that, and perhaps they are up to the taunts and challenge to do the right thing on accreditation called integrity. Seems Skogan likes to test fate and leadership. Certainly HLC should not look the other way and believe only one rogue university president is responsible. and is the sole problem. Housecleaning was needed. Was enough sweeping done to have a clean house?

    Appears the NDUS was governed by a egotistical mismanager, and is now run by the council of college presidents led by the three king. Hope the Board of Higher Education starts to act like a governing board.

    • Eric

      They will only act as a governing board after the 2014 election and we throw the bums out with our votes.

  • Salemosophy

    What happens to the students who have degrees from “an accredited institution” that then loses accreditation? Does that mean those students lose as well and have to go to another accredited university all over again? Do we visit the sins of the institution on all of its graduates for the greed and fraud of some?

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Those are really good questions, and the answers aren’t exactly clear.

  • Say What

    Larry Skogen had my respect. He has lost it all with this.