Dickinson State University in North Dakota says irregularities in its foreign program led to hundreds of invalid degrees and certificates being awarded.
A meeting with students President D.C. Coston called Saturday to explain the special international program was cited for six major violations was interrupted by a campus lockdown ordered because of a possible gunman that turned out to be the apparent suicide of a school administrator, the Bismark Journal reported.
Douglas LaPlante, dean of education, business and applied sciences, was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound several minutes later, the Dickinson Police Department said in a statement.
An internal audit of the program revealed that foreign students, mostly from China, lacked minimum admission criteria and English language proficiency. Coston said the problems affect 743 of 816 students who have been part of the program since 2003. Of the total, 584 were awarded a diploma or certificate, and must be informed their certifications are not valid. The findings were announced Friday by Coston and Chancellor Bill Goetz, the newspaper reported.
No apparent connection was reported by the school between the violations and the death of the dean.