Douglas LaPlante, the Dean of College of Education, Business and Applied Sciences of Dickinson State University in North Dakota was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday February 10, 2012.
The Dickinson State university is ranked 63rd in the Midwest Region by US News & World Report. With an undergraduate enrollment of 2,668 and an endowment of $10 million, the public university has been seen struggling with shrinking state funding, which was compounded by a booming local oil industry that drew high school graduates away. Its four year graduation rate is 12%.
Hours earlier on the same day, the university made public the result of an audit which confirmed accusation that many students had been awarded degrees before completed their course study. Of 410 degrees granted to Chinese students in the past four years, 400 of them did not meet qualifications to graduate. In addition, of 144 degrees granted to Russian students in the same period, none meets graduation standards. The program at issue is titled 'Join, Top Up and Disney'. International students were promised an US degree after 6 months of Disney experience and 7 months of on campus study.
LaPlante was a strong supporter for the University's Confucius Institute, a Chinese cultural center fully funded by the Chinese government. Dickinson officials announced on Wednesday evening that they would scrap a plan to implement the Institute. A Chinese representative from partner school Taiyuan University of Technology, Professor Mei Hao, will pack and go.