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Regents decide to update goals

PIERRE — The South Dakota Board of Regents approved a four-page document Thursday outlining expectations for the system's new executive director, Paul Beran, about how the regents want the state universities and special schools run.

Board President Kevin Schieffer of Sioux Falls said the draft resulted from a closed-door discussion in an executive session held Wednesday. The report covers the next two to five years and replaces the priorities the regents set in October 2014 for where they wanted the system to be in 2018.

The new document was also partially a response to the Legislature. Paul Turman, the regents' chief academic affairs officer, told the group Thursday about a 45-minute presentation he made in July to legislators from the Joint Committee on Appropriations. Turman said lawmakers wanted his report condensed to two pages.

The new document lists 10 items. One piece says Beran should develop "a practical approach" to Dakota Promise needs-based scholarships that need money from legislators.

Another covers the Rapid City and Sioux Falls university centers: "We stand well short of success on that effort," it says. The regents withdrew most of their support from Capital University Center in Pierre in the past year. All three have lost enrollment.

Turman said students' need for remediation in math and English remains "a little stymying." He said the rate dropped to 26 percent and looked on track to fall to 20 percent but has come back up to 31 percent.

That metric was "not necessarily" for the regents but for high schools and the state Board of Education Standards, he said.

South Dakota remains second highest on tuition and fees in the seven-state region, Turman said. Legislators want those costs put in a chart, he said.

"I envision this as a work in progress," Schieffer said.

Said Beran: "I will keep you-all well informed."

Regarding the university centers, which began three executive directors ago under Tad Perry just as online courses were starting to be popular with students, Schieffer said that part of the plan "might need more time."

"We don't feel a turning. That doesn't mean it's not turning," Schieffer told South Dakota State University President Barry Dunn about the centers. He added, "We're not directing that you upset the apple cart and zig in the other direction."

Schieffer told the university presidents who are involved with the Sioux Falls center and Black Hills State University President Tom Jackson Jr., who oversees the Rapid City center, that if something isn't working they should tell the regents.

"We'll work out a plan," Beran assured the regents about the centers, then told the presidents: "I see this as a conversation between me and you-all."