Ruling due in December on Dickinson State presidentDickinson State University administrators on Wednesday gave markedly different depictions of President Richard McCallum’s attitudes about the school’s enrollment trends, with one official saying he was alarmed at McCallum’s fist-banging reaction to a student shortage.
By: By Dale Wetzel, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Dickinson State University administrators on Wednesday gave markedly different depictions of President Richard McCallum’s attitudes about the school’s enrollment trends, with one official saying he was alarmed at McCallum’s fist-banging reaction to a student shortage.
“He was very, very upset,” Tim Daniel, Dickinson State’s athletics director, said Wednesday of McCallum’s remarks to an August 2010 meeting of administrators to discuss the fall semester’s expected enrollment. Daniel, the longtime men’s basketball coach at Dickinson State, had been named athletic director the month before.
“He ended the conversation by slamming his fist onto the table, and then he picked up his coat and briefcase and walked out of the room and left the group there, just to sit there,” Daniel said.
North Dakota’s Board of Higher Education wants to fire McCallum, saying he pushed subordinates to deliberately inflate the school’s enrollment totals in the fall of 2010. North Dakota university system officials say the September 2010 count of 2,482 students was padded by about 7 percent.
McCallum has been suspended with pay since early August, when an auditor’s report detailing the alleged inflation was completed. McCallum, 62, earns $176,782 annually.
McCallum declined university system Chancellor William Goetz’s suggestion that he resign and asked for a hearing, which wrapped up Wednesday after four days of testimony.
Bonny Fetch, a state administrative law judge who is handling the case, said she will make a recommendation to the Board of Higher Education by Dec. 9 on whether there is sufficient cause to fire McCallum. The board will make the final decision.
Jon Brudvig, Dickinson State’s vice president for academic affairs, had a more placid description of McCallum during Wednesday’s hearing, saying the president was approachable and “somebody who cared very deeply about the institution and the people who worked there.”
Brudvig said he never felt pressured to boost the school’s enrollment numbers, although he acknowledged Dickinson State made errors in reporting its fall 2010 totals.
“If I made a mistake, it was a mistake from lack of knowledge at the time, and I accept responsibility for that,” Brudvig said. “No one at any point came to me and told me they were being pressured, or that they had concerns.”
McCallum, during his own testimony last week, said some enrollment reporting mistakes were made, but that he never directed anyone to falsify data.
“I think the hearing clearly indicates that just cause (for his dismissal) has not been proven,” McCallum said in an interview.
An audit report said most of the alleged inflation came from counting people who attended symposiums on energy production and Theodore Roosevelt, and a Walt Disney Co. hospitality skills seminar, as freshman students.
More than 160 people who attended the three events, including Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson and the North Dakota Senate’s Republican majority leader, Dickinson Sen. Rich Wardner, were enrolled and given “A” grades without their knowledge.
Brudvig said he was surprised to learn he was listed as an instructor for the energy symposium, because he did no teaching. He ended up giving grades to the participants.
“I wasn’t really involved with any of (the events) ... but at some point, somebody made the decision to name me instructor of record,” Brudvig said Wednesday. “I don’t know who that is, I don’t know when that happened.”
Richard Brauhn, a former Dickinson State vice president for academic affairs, testified Wednesday that he believed enrolling students without their knowledge was “tantamount to identity theft.” Brauhn retired in June.
Brauhn said during an August 2009 meeting of campus administrators to discuss the expected fall enrollment, McCallum stood and said, “I will not be the president that presides over a declining enrollment at DSU.”
Brauhn said he and McCallum later argued about whether all the participants in a scheduled symposium should be included in Dickinson State’s enrollment. Brauhn said only a few were eligible.
“I said, basically, that one, it was unethical and illegal” to enroll every participant, Brauhn said he told McCallum.
“You don’t enroll students in courses that they have no knowledge of being enrolled in, and then give them credit for the courses,” Brauhn said.