No Discipline Planned At North Dakota Degree Mill

Published February 11, 2012 7:00PM (EST)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — No immediate discipline is planned for any Dickinson State University employees in the wake of an audit determining the school awarded hundreds of degrees to foreign students who didn't earn them, the chancellor of North Dakota's university system said Saturday.

However, the university vice president in charge of overseeing the program in which the students studied resigned Friday after the audit was released. Jon Brudvig, Dickinson State's vice president for academic affairs, will continue to work at the university in a yet-to-be determined role while he looks for another job, Chancellor William Goetz told The Associated Press.

The audit did not mention Brudvig by name, and Goetz said his resignation wasn't requested.

"It was a decision (Brudvig) made not to continue with those responsibilities," he said. "It was his decision."

Goetz wouldn't discuss whether the apparent suicide of university administrator Doug LaPlante was connected to the audit's Friday release. The audit didn't mention LaPlante, but many affected students studied in the business program he led.

LaPlante, 59, the dean of Dickinson State's college of education, business and applied sciences, was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday afternoon near an intersection.

"I cannot say whether his unfortunate death may have had anything to do with the audit," Goetz said.

LaPlante and many other university officials were told about the audit before it was released Friday morning, but no one faced immediate sanctions as a result of its findings, he said.

"I won't draw any conclusions at this time," Goetz said. "We certainly want to make to make certain issues are handled appropriately."

The audit determined only 10 of the 410 foreign students who earned joint degrees from Dickinson State and the students' home universities since 2003 had completed all their requirements. Most were Chinese, it said. The rest were Russian.

Goetz said hundreds of students may have their degrees revoked, but they will receive the opportunity to legitimately earn them.

"Certainly they did not meet the requirements of the degree that was granted them," Goetz said. "We will grant them the opportunity to fulfill those requirements."

The report also recommended Dickinson State cancel the 127 agreements it has with international schools pending a fresh evaluation of each. It found many of the agreements weren't properly registered with the appropriate university office and didn't contain detailed implementation plans.

Goetz is retiring in August, when he finishes his fifth year as the North Dakota university system's top administrator. The system includes six four-year universities and five two-year colleges, an enrollment of almost 49,000 students.

Goetz is a former state lawmaker and administrator at Dickinson State.

By Salon Staff

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