One Year Later, Where’s The Justice For Dickinson State University?


On February 10th, 2012, the North Dakota State Auditor released a devastating report about diploma fraud at Dickinson State University. The audit found that some 584 fraudulent degrees were issued to foreign students, mostly from China. The students had also enjoyed relaxed admissions standards and even fake grades, all the while using their enrollment at DSU as justification for visas allowing them to be in the country.

The day the audit’s findings were announced in Dickinson, university official Doug LaPlante went missing and was eventually found dead from self-inflicted wounds near a local park.

The scope of this fraud was shocking, and its impact far-reaching. There are a lot of legitimate students, who earned legitimate grades, who must now deal with the fact that the degree they paid a significant amount of money from is tainted by association with a “diploma mill.” Enrollment is down significantly, and Dickinson State managed to hang on to its accreditation by the skin of its teeth.

But the question, a year later, is why hasn’t anyone been held accountable? This was one of worst, if not the worst, cases of government fraud in North Dakota’s history. Not so very long ago the director of the state’s worker’s compensation bureau was prosecuted for allegedly misappropriating thousands of dollars in state funds by buying and dispensing coupons for free massages and car washes to his employees. But not one prosecution for hundreds of phony degrees worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention rampant grade and admissions manipulation, at Dickinson State?

Not even the media in the state is making mention of this grim anniversary.

Former DSU President Richard McCallum was fired, sure, but late last year he was applying for a new job at Florida State College in Jacksonville. And McCallum didn’t perpetrate the fraud at DSU by himself. His accomplices in that fraud are either still working there, or have been allowed to leave the university quietly.

The North Dakota University System moved to push quickly past the scandal. After quickly appointing a new DSU president, and after the rapid turn over of several members of the State Board of Higher Education, they seem prepared to carry on as though the fraud never happened. Our state’s elected officials seem to harbor the same inclinations.

Meaning that, somehow, hundreds of diplomas worth hundreds of thousands of dollars were given away based on faked grades and phony admissions all without anyone facing criminal charges. And, on the one year anniversary of this horrendous fraud, nobody in the state is talking about what happened.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” wrote George Santayana in The Life of Reason. It seems as though North Dakota’s public officials are intent on not learning the lessons of Dickinson State’s diploma fraud.

Rob Port is the editor of 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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  • ec99

    Wouldn’t be surprised if this web stretched out to Goetz and Dalrymple, as well as the SBHE. With that many power players you’re never going to see a real investigation.

    • Enough with the Corruption

      I’d like to know the reason Governor Dalrymple remains unusually silent about the DSU scandal – he considers it an ‘unfortunate distraction’ – I want to know if he was aware of the problems last session when SBHE hid them from legislators. I recall he and Governor Hoeven took credit for Chinese Confucius institute deals with DSU and NDSU months before he became Governor. DSU’s Confucius partner school was one of the Chinese schools that supplied DSU with the Chinese students.

  • Proof

    Proof = Governor Dalrymple with Richard McCallum page 8

    Governor Hoeven’s 2010 press release about China trade mission

    • Proof

      And while many of us have all the “proof” we need, to avoid any confusion, that was not I who commented.

      • Proof

        hehehehe, you are correct. didn’t mean to cause any confusion. typed Proof referencing the above online links ;-) not pretending to be you

        • Proof

          That’s what I figured. I just didn’t want you to have to suffer the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” cast at me by a number of the resident trolls here!

  • China Threat
    • devilschild

      Yet so many people are in favor of China’s pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. What a scam that is.

  • 11B40


    Me, I’d like to see some adventurous newsweakly magazine publish an annual list of colleges and universities hanging on to their accreditations “by the skin of their teeth”.

    • ec99

      Won’t be in ND. The media are all in bed with the power structure.

      • devilschild

        so true …

  • Opinion8ed

    Exactly they are more upset for you with reminding people of this fraud then those who perpetrated it. The question is WHY?

  • MetisMick

    The State deserves to get to the bottom of this no matter how high it goes or how foul smelling it is.