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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

DUSTIN GAWRYLOW: DSU INVESTIGATION ENTERS NEW PHASE

DSU Investigation Enters New Phase

 

 

Chancellor Bill Goetz Properly Hands Off Investigation To Auditor's Office

 

 

 

As the investigation of the Dickinson State University scandal expands, the revelations are coming out very quickly. 

 

In a surreal development, we learned that last week, campus police in Dickinson busted some people attempting to take a laptop from the University President's office:

 

University System Chancellor Bill Goetz confirmed that Dickinson State University campus police caught individuals attempting to take a laptop from the president`s office the night before suspended President Richard McCallum had to drop off his computer, keys and other items to Goetz last week. But Goetz said it was a misunderstanding.

A source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a few individuals were caught carrying a laptop and what might have been papers on Sunday, August 7, 2011 in the president`s office.

 

But the source said that the man who oversees campus security, DSU`s Vice President for Student Development, Hal Haynes, wasn`t told that anyone would be dropping by the president`s office that night. So campus police detained the individuals.

 

Since yesterday's update we've learned a few of the details regarding the cash handouts that were given to student athletes. 

 

From KFYR-TV:

 

Documents obtained Monday through open public records requests reveal a signature which appears to be McCallum`s, approving the Roughrider award scholarships to some of the student-athletes.

"There was concern about where the money was going to come from, because the scholarship fund, at that time, didn`t have much left in it," says the anonymous source. "And because there is a finite amount of scholarship dollars that the university could give out every year. And so, when you make a decision to give additional funding, or scholarship money, to students, if it`s not there, well, the money has to come from somewhere."

 

The article goes on to say that:

 

Internal DSU documents show that Roughrider Scholarships can`t exceed $1,000, yet two of the student athletes apparently were approved to receive more that in addition to a full international scholarship they were already receiving.

Legislators say oil revenues used to fund the scholarships were depleted, so state lawmakers approved one-time payments to replenish the fund, totaling about $500,000 during the past two legislative sessions. And some lawmakers are concerned that this state money may have been misused.

 

One has to wonder: if the legislature put $500,000 into the scholarship fund, and it's nearly depleted, whether these reported incidents were just the first to be reported.  How much more is there to be found?

 

The Dickinson Press expands on this story by saying:

 

The memo dated Jan. 13 states a student would now be receiving $2,000 per semester in Roughrider scholarship funds retroactive to the 2010 fall semester through the 2012 spring semester in place of a volleyball scholarship. That student would also continue to receive a 100 percent global awareness award.

 

In the memo dated March 23, a student-athlete was approved to receive a Roughrider scholarship for $1,578.73 for the 2011 spring semester in addition to a 100 percent global awareness award and a $3,500 athletic award.

 

Additional scholarship documents obtained by The Press showed that more than 40 out-of-state students who received the Roughrider scholarship were awarded either $1,000 or $500.

 

No one other than the two international students and three students from the Las Vegas area received additional assistance.

 

There is some irony in how this scholarship has been run, as pointed out by the Dickinson Press:

 

Other documents obtained Monday by The Dickinson Press show the Roughrider Scholarship Award was originally known as the Roughrider Homestead Scholarship and was originally intended for North Dakota high school graduates and community college transfer students.

 

Sounds pretty typical: create a fund for North Dakota high graduates, start using it fund out-of-state students, completely throw out protocol and hand out wads of cash, then cry for a bailout from the legislature. 

 

 

Chancellor Goetz Hands off Investigation to Auditor's Office

 

As Brian Howell with KFYR-TV reported last night:

 

Political pressure has been mounting for Goetz to back off the current investigation into the school.

"That`s exactly why I`m asking the State Auditor`s office to get involved. That`s where it belongs."

"I just hope that whatever happens helps move the university forward," adds the source.


Goetz says a very thorough investigation is necessary.

 

This is the right move.  As State Senator Joe Miller stated, Chancellor Goetz was too heavily involved with letting the issue slide for this long. 

 

As this investigation moves along, there is sure to be more revelations.  We need to keep in mind that the reason this is all such a big deal is not because of one incident, it is because an overarching lack of transparency and accountability in higher education. 

 

The policies in the University System that demand higher enrollment numbers regardless of cost or benefit to the state in the long term have contributed to this situation. 

 

Clearly, there is a loss of focus as to who university officials have been hired to serve - students as future taxpayers, and their taxpaying parents.

 

And the Fargo Forum can minimize this issue all they want, it is still a story worth reporting.

Click here to email your elected representatives.

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