Regents set tuition aid and research buildings atop 2017 request from governor, Legislature

The state Board of Regents set priorities to forward to the governor Thursday morning, hoping he would ask the Legislature in 2017 for additional student tuition aid for South Dakota's six public universities and for construction of research faci...

The state Board of Regents set priorities to forward to the governor Thursday morning, hoping he would ask the Legislature in 2017 for additional student tuition aid for South Dakota's six public universities and for construction of research facilities in four cities.

The student affordability plan would cost a total of $9.2 million.

It calls for nearly $4.5 million of tuition aid first for South Dakota residents who attend the state universities, followed by nearly $2 million of aid for non-residents and nearly $1.5 million for students who take online courses.

The fourth component would be some $500,000 of additional aid for Northern State University in Aberdeen and Black Hills State University at Spearfish for student recruitment and retention efforts.

The four universities that have major research efforts underway received the regents' approval to move ahead on preliminary facility statements for the research buildings.


Gov. Dennis Daugaard plans to recommend the Legislature financially support the research construction plan and if necessary the work could be done in phases as plans and private money come together.

He wants the projects to have 50 percent private financial support, according to regents official Nathan Lukkes. That would mean at least $57 million in private funding.

The projects call for:

• An $18 million cyber-security laboratory at Dakota State University in Madison;

• A $61.4 million renovation and expansion of the animal disease research and diagnostic laboratory at South Dakota State University in Brookings;

• A $20 million advanced-materials laboratory at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City; and

• A $14 million expansion of a bio-technology wing at the present GEAR research building on the University Center campus operated in Sioux Falls by the University of South Dakota.

Regent Kevin Schieffer, of Sioux Falls, said Thursday the consensus among the regents was all four projects are good but Dakota State's "MadLabs" cyber-security project might be the most important to do first because there is support clearly in place from the federal government and from private businesses.


The priority list as approved by the regents for the governor has Dakota State's laboratory at the top, followed by the School of Mines laboratory, the SDSU animal laboratory and the USD research wing addition.

However, regents president Randy Schaefer of Madison noted the board strongly supports the Brookings animal laboratory independently of the other three and hopes it goes ahead at its own pace.

A major addition would be built to the current lab and the existing space then would be upgraded.

The governor and livestock industry representatives are working on the SDSU funding package that SDSU president Barry Dunn said won't involve any student fees.

"All of these projects together would be a transformative event for South Dakota," Schieffer said. "I'm very hopeful that is still possible."

Regent Katharine Johnson, of Hill City, said ideally they all could move forward. "We're hoping they can all advance on their own simultaneously," Johnson said.

The regents agreed to delay a contentious decision until their December meeting on Northern State's request to add a math and science center to the regents' 10-year construction plan.

The earliest sufficient state bond capacity would become available could be 2024 or 2030. The building doesn't have a cost estimate yet. That planning work is underway.


Mines president Heather Wilson argued against adding the project. Regent Harvey Jewett of Aberdeen said Northern State hasn't received a new academic building in some 50 years.

Jewett pushed that the science center at least be added because of a $15 million donation that has been promised and a debt-free loan is available that could be used until there is state bonding available. Jewett didn't identify the donor or donors.

NOTE TO READERS: This story was written from Pierre using the webcast from the regents' meeting at Northern State University in Aberdeen.

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