Coston named DSU interim president
An interim president for Dickinson State University was named and board members decided to continue with procedures to dismiss Richard McCallum as the school's president during the State Board of Higher Education meeting Monday.
D.C. Coston, North Dakota State University's vice president for agriculture and university extension, is DSU's interim president.
North Dakota University System Chancellor William Goetz first asked McCallum to resign Aug. 3 due to allegations that 180 students were enrolled at DSU without their knowledge or consent in fall 2010 under McCallum's direction.
After McCallum refused to resign, Goetz sent him a letter stating he intended to dismiss him.
The SBHE was in executive session for most of Monday's meeting, so the public could not listen to members' discussion about DSU.
When the board reconvened publicly, members voted to approve a performance audit at DSU pursuant to a cost estimate.
"In light of the issues at Dickinson State, it has been a situation where issues continue to evolve and it is my recommendation that ... steps be taken to conduct a performance audit," Goetz said.
SBHE Vice President Duaine Espegard inquired about what would be reviewed.
"Bill, in relationship to this issue, which is termination, what would be the purpose of a special performance audit now, at this time, when there's other audits that will be going on?" he asked.
Goetz said financial questions prevail after the internal audit at DSU, which uncovered the inflated enrollment.
"This would not be, as I see it, anything that would be extensive, but would be very focused on primarily the issues that we have already talked about as well as several financial issues," Goetz said.
McCallum intends to fight for his position and requested a hearing Wednesday to address the pending allegations. The SBHE confirmed at the meeting that it will pursue the hearing.
However, a hearing officer will be appointed, so the SBHE will not attend the hearing. Instead it will review information gathered from it to decide whether to follow through with the termination, officials said.
A date for the hearing has not been set.
Despite issues at DSU, Coston said he is happy to be acting president.
"Certainly I don't know all the details. ... I'm confident that all of us working together can do the things that are important to the future of Dickinson State University," Coston said. "I have deep respect for the institution, for the people there and I'm excited to get there and begin to work with folks as we try to serve the students and help build the institution."
This will be the first time he will serve as a university president. He has been a vice president at NDSU for six years.
"D.C. Coston has the leadership skills and professional expertise needed to guide Dickinson State University through this transition," Goetz said in a press release. "He will work closely with the university's senior leadership team, faculty, staff and students."
Coston does not intend to be a permanent president at DSU.
"At this point the expectation is until ultimately a permanent president is chosen," he said.
Coston will take a leave of absence from NDSU to serve as acting president of DSU, pending further board action. He will earn an annual salary of $205,320.
Prior to joining NDSU in 2005, Coston was employed at Clemson (S.C.) University, Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., and Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla.
Messages left for SBHE board members were not returned. Calls to McCallum and his attorney, Ben Thomas, were not returned.
Ashley Martin is a reporter for The Dickinson Press, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.