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Monday, February 13, 2012


The opening line of today's editorial in the Minot Daily News sums it up perfectly: "what in the world is going on at Dickinson State University"?


North Dakota's higher education system has made national news, in the worst way possible.


The headline Sunday Morning on FoxNews.com was this: "ND University Awarded Unearned Degrees".


On page A-6 of the San Francisco Chronicle the headline reads: "Dickinson State - alleged diploma mill for Chinese students".


On the New York Times website it reads: "Degrees (Without the work) for Foreign Students at North Dakota University".


None of this is shocking to those of us who have been critics of the University System over the years.


Last legislative session, with the help of some forward-thinking legislators, promoting House Bill 1369 in the legislature. (Sponsored by


HB 1369 did nothing to change any policies, rather, it sought to increase the reporting requirements of North Dakota's institutions of higher learning.


The bill was ultimately defeated by State Senate because Chancellor Bill Goetz of the North Dakota University System convinced the committee that the extra information was not needed by the legislature.


This was, of course, months before the DSU Enrollment Scandal story initially broke.


Last summer, documents and rumors were sent to NDTA by undisclosed faculty members at Dickinson State University because these faculty members realized that the only way the truth would get out is if an organization like NDTA led the charge. (These faculty members also knew that I am a graduate of DSU myself.)


In late June 2011, these documents were forwarded on to the investigative reporter at PlainsDaily.com. After several weeks of stonewalling, it became very clearly that the University System and Dickinson State University were doing all they could to block any reporting of the situation. It was downplayed as "no big deal."


As the story unfolded, we quickly found out that Chancellor Goetz was involved with silencing faculty members at Dickinson State long before the 2011 Legislative session.


What we see today in Dickinson is the collapse of a House of Cards built by the arrogance of the North Dakota University System and the Board of Higher Education. These entities have long declared themselves to be a separate branch of government, unaccountable to the legislature or the governor.


Corruption is a strong word that NDTA has refrained from using the term up to this point because to use it as hyperbole reduces its effectiveness.


But the time has come to use that dirty word.


As I wrote on August 17th, 2011 when this whole situation was blowing up, the only way to prevent these situations is to promote legitimate whistle-blower activities, and protect the public employees that act properly:


If we as taxpayers want Good Government, we have to understand the need to legally shield whistleblowers that go on the record when it comes to waste, fraud, and abuse.


There really is no reason to believe that the sort of issues being revealed in Dickinson are isolated to that campus. There is a lot of talk among those in the know that these issues could extend to other campuses in the state.


These issues need to be uncovered as soon as possible, before anyone else feels pushed to commit suicide, as one faculty member at Dickinson State has already done.


If Chancellor Bill Goetz weren't already on the way out, a call for his resignation would be completely appropriate because it is very clear he was well aware of these troubles.

Click here to email your elected representatives.


Avatar for Pamela Sund

Thank you for the article on DSU and for your work to bring this to the fore and to public attention. I appreciate your diligence. I, too, am very concerned about this situation, as should be all residents of ND. There are so many fine faculty members at Dickinson and some top notch admin employees, and it is a venerable ND institution, but yes, what is the Higher Ed board doing with its hands-off policy. What is the purpose of the board? How are the institutions of Higher Ed in ND monitored? Great questions you are asking, and thank you!!

Pamela Sund on February 14, 2012 at 11:20 pm
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