Last week Dickinson State University President D.C. Coston sent out a YouTube video to faculty and staff distancing himself and the university from the DSU Foundation. It was in response to an open records request I’d filed with the ND University System office for an arbitration settlement awarding a contractor over $1.5 million.
This is why Coston is running away from the foundation as quickly as possible:
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has announced that his office is filing a motion that would force the Dickinson State University Foundation into receivership.
The decision, announced Wednesday afternoon during a conference call at the Foundation’s Alumni Center in Dickinson, could lead to a third party being appointed to oversee the assets of the foundation, and calls into question the Foundation’s financial stability.
“The financial records of this non-profit are in chaos,” Stenehjem said.
Stenehjem pointed out that the foundation has been using donated scholarship funds to cover operating costs. That’s a big deal. I’m not a lawyer, but usually when an organization starts using donated funds for things they weren’t intended for, there’s a law that’s been broken.
Stenehjem also pointed out that multiple fiscal audits of the foundation have been inconclusive because the financial record keeping has been so poor.
Typically university officials claim that these foundations are separate, private entities. But in reality, the foundations are considered to be public institutions which must abide by state open record and meetings laws. The idea that they’re “separate” is a convenient fiction perpetrated by the universities to avoid transparency and accountability.
Like, say, when a foundation finds itself in a financial black hole.
Anyway, another day, another scandal for the North Dakota University System.