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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

HB 1298: Kirkeby Calls for Campus Closing

...or at least consideration thereof!

Last year, Representative Mark Kirkeby (R-35/Rapid City) floated the idea of closing a South Dakota university campus. This year he's serious: we have a bill! Hot off the presses, House Bill 1298:

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to require the Board of Regents to prepare a plan to close one of the postsecondary educational institutions under its control.


Section 1. The Board of Regents shall prepare a plan providing for the closure of one of the postsecondary educational institutions under its control, and shall present that plan to the Governor and to the Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council no later than November 15, 2009. The plan shall include:
  1. The institution targeted for closure, the rationale behind the decision to close that particular institution, and the timelines necessary to carry out the closure;
  2. An analysis of how the unique academic programs currently offered at that institution might be divided among the remaining postsecondary educational institutions;
  3. An analysis of the economic impact the closure would have on the city or geographic region where the institution is located; and
  4. Strategies the Board of Regents will undertake to encourage current students at that institution to remain in South Dakota to complete their higher education.
Notice HB 1298 does not call for actually closing a campus. It just calls on the Board of Regents to come up with a plan for doing so. If the bill passes, expect the Regents to work up a Part 3 that will scare the pants off any legislators who would think of doing such damage to Spearfish, Aberdeen, or Madison (does anyone think any other campus could make the chop list?).


  1. 'bout time! Though consolidation of management and administration would also make as much sense (and savings) and have less impact on ed service delivery.

    Look at Nebraska - she has 1,000,000 more people than does SD. Yet Nebraska administers public higher ed with only seven universities/colleges and one two-year degree granting college.

    South Dakota NEEDs to get more efficient.

  2. Hey, what's this junk from the BOR & governor about establishing a physics & astrophysics center (associated with the underground lab) - at USD - 400 miles from the lab?! Is this the start of a 3rd engineering school?! What management Mensa dreamt this up?!

  3. My guess would be that SDSMT would be a pretty solid candidate. Enrollment here dropped off a cliff after they changed the enrollment criteria to a 26 on the ACT. One of the school's strengths use to be to attract high schoolers who just didn't care and received very low marks in HS. The programs at Mines are specific enough so such students got interested in the subjects and flourished.

    In addition, engineering salaries have plummeted the last 15+ years. It's really challenging to convince someone to go get an engineering degree as opposed to a professional degree now (Doc/Lawyer). If I was to do it over again I would definitely have grabbed a MBA/Law degree as opposed to my graduate degrees.

  4. Well, at least the guy is consistent. Kirkeby is also one of the sponsors behind legislation to consolidate public K-12 facilities.
    I say let the universities go first... yet the BOR system continues to grow programs and facilities while SD taxpayers subsidize out of state tuition.
    Check it out for yourself on the Board of Regents website. South Dakota prides itself on offering the lowest out of state tuition for both undergraduate and graduate students. In some cases it is cheaper for out of state students to attend SD universities than it is for them to pay resident tuition in their own state.
    What's wrong with this picture? Nothing if we can afford it, but I have noticed that there are plenty of new or late model cars with out of state license plates in our universty parking lots.
    Meanwhile, most SD resident students drive to college in $3,000 "school cars". Let's fund any growth of the BOR system by increasing out of state tuition. There is plenty of blue sky for this.

  5. For the guy talking about the School of Mines, check their graduation data, starting salaries, job placement, etc.

    And if you think a lawyer in this state gets rich, think again. Some do. But ask recent grads of USD what their starting salary is, if they are lucky enough to find a job, and then consider the hours they must put in and see if you truly want that kind of lifestyle Mines offers classes not available anywhere else, as contrasted to some of the other listed schools on the "closure" target list.

  6. Sorry about my typos above. Last paragraph above should read:

    "...kind of lifestyle.

    Mines offers classes not available anywhere else, as contrasted to some of the other listed schools on the 'closure' target list."

  7. I don't know about Mines offering classes no one else does... Outside of a few very specific metallurgical classes, I would bet that SDSU offers everything that Mines does. Out of the smaller schools in the system (NSU, DSU and Mines) Mines is the top choice.

    Northern had huge enrollment numbers this year and DSU fills a niche that the state asked them to. Anyone who was going to go to Mines can get the same degree at SDSU.

    I also that its funny that Kirkeby, a man who should care for fate of Mines is the one pushing it.

  8. Anon 8:05

    I work at mines. Starting salaries are ~50k for a very good BS student. Job placement has been dropping consecutively for the last 3 years. The numbers are artificially inflated by desperate graduates taking jobs for which they are vastly overqualified. Placement in jobs that they are qualified for is at best 50%.

    Comparatively, a good lawyer easily starts at 90k. A doctor ~100+. Even grabbing a MBA is ~80k now.

    Anon 11:05

    No, SDSU does not offer equivalent classes. If mines closes those opportunities will be lost.

  9. Why not make up a study on what happen if you closed any of the seven state universities?

    We have to ask ourselves the question: How important is it to keep seven separate state institutions full with students?

    Would the affected towns be better off with a converted prison rather than a state school?

    How much longer can the taxpayers of the state of SD afford to subsidize higher ed?

  10. "Would the affected towns be better off with a converted prison rather than a state school?

    How much longer can the taxpayers of the state of SD afford to subsidize higher ed?"

    Hold on, Anon. Just how many prisons do we need in this state (well, actually more the less we invest in education)?

    And how do you figure a prison wouldn't be subsidized by the state? Where exactly would the money come from to run one? I'm willing to bet a university is a much better way to spend money than a prison. Prisoners don't pay into the system; students do. Prisoners don't do valuable research; students do. Prisoners don't spend money downtown; students....well, you get the idea. I hope.

    I'm willing to have the discussion about whether or not we need seven state schools. But the last thing we want is more prisons.

  11. It only makes sense to convert a closed campus to another public use.

    The taxpayers of the state of SD subsidize the cost of higher education. Why should they?

    If the state schools were truly self supporting, maybe it's time to look at privatization of the public colleges...maybe they'll thrive or more likely flounder in failure like the former Huron U.

    If we are truly interested in saving money ALL things must be on the table.

  12. Tony,

    Can I get a list of the classes that Mines offers that aren't offered at SDSU or the ones that couldn't be offered within one year if there was need.

    I think you'd be hard pressed to find too many...


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