Administrator found dead after searchA search for a missing Dickinson State University dean came to a tragic end Friday when officials found his body north of the intersection of Seventh Avenue West and Sixth Street West in Memorial Park.
By: Forum Communications Co. Report, The Jamestown Sun
DICKINSON, N.D. — A search for a missing Dickinson State University dean came to a tragic end Friday when officials found his body north of the intersection of Seventh Avenue West and Sixth Street West in Memorial Park.
Doug LaPlante, 59, DSU dean of the college of education, business and applied sciences, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 1:23 p.m., according to a Dickinson Police Department release. He has been with the university since 1991.
“Doug was the first person at DSU I got to know when I came to North Dakota,” DSU President D.C. Coston said in a statement. “I found him to be person of deep care and unquestionable integrity. He had a deep and abiding commitment to Dickinson State and to our students.”
DPD was contacted by a DSU staff member at approximately 9:27 a.m. Friday after LaPlante had uncharacteristically missed a meeting, according to the release.
Officers responded to LaPlante’s residence located in the 600 block of Ninth Avenue West, in close proximity to DSU’s campus.
An investigation revealed LaPlante had left his residence on foot and he had not taken his cellphone or identification. It was also determined that a large-caliber rifle was missing from LaPlante’s residence.
LaPlante was last seen by an unnamed passer-by walking northeast toward Rocky Butte Park at about 8 a.m.
The release said that because LaPlante was believed to be distraught, precautions were taken to shelter DSU’s campus and other schools in the vicinity.
Faculty, staff and non-residential students were asked to leave the campus immediately while on-campus students were asked to return to their dormitories.
Coston planned to meet with students at Klinefelter Hall at 1 p.m. Friday about the audit report that said DSU had awarded hundreds of degrees to foreign students who didn’t earn them, signed up students who couldn’t speak English and enrolled a handful without qualifying grades.
Coston told students he would discuss the matter at another time, asking students not to go on social networks, including Twitter and Facebook.
A campus evacuation was enacted, but the order was lifted after university officials confirmed the danger to students and faculty had passed.
No one else was believed to be involved, DPD Capt. Joe Cianni said.
“People have nothing to fear,” he said. “There is no one else associated with this particular incident and there is no one else being sought.”
Former DSU President Leland Vickers said in a phone interview from Phoenix that he worked with LePlante while he was president from 1999 to 2008. He was “dumbfounded” when he heard the news.
“Doug was a very dedicated, very serious professional,” he said. “It’s unbelievable this would occur.”
The DPD did not state a reason for LaPlante’s actions. A police investigation is ongoing.
The Dickinson (N.D.) Press is owned by Forum Communications Co.