New Realities

Several pages of STATE Magazine in recent years have highlighted the physical appearance of the Brookings campus — construction, remodeled facilities, green spaces, and updated signage. Working with donors and friends, we have made noticeable changes.

This year, a palpable cut in state funding has forced noticeable changes in the University’s organizational structure, its academic breadth, and its research and service operations.

Quite simply, South Dakota State University looks different today than it did last year.

State appropriations to the University, the Agricultural Experiment Station, and SDSU Extension were cut 10 percent for Fiscal Year 2012, marking the third consecutive year of funding cuts. University reductions and adjustments reached $3.825 million, including a net cut in state appropriations of $1.85 million and a similar amount to cover unavoidable costs and to fund transitions over the next two years.

As a result, fifty-five employees received layoff notices in April. Another 35.8 positions were eliminated from vacancies and retirements. The contracts for 105 faculty were reduced to nine or ten months.

Five degree programs and two specializations will be terminated over the next two years. Four Experiment Station units will be closed, including sites at Highmore and Miller.  Additionally, the budget cut prompted a reorganization of the SDSU Extension and a net reduction of twenty positions there.

The funding cut led to a stark realization: The University’s operational model no longer could be sustained without significant changes. Provost Laurie Nichols and the deans made every effort to lessen the impact on students; unfortunately, reduced state support means that class sizes and student-to-faculty ratios will increase.

At base level, these new realities reflect an affirmation of the state’s land-grant university’s core mission—the emphasis on teaching, research, and outreach. We at SDSU remain committed to providing the best possible academic experience for students.

Our successes, despite the challenges of reduced state funding, reflect this mission. Two academic programs—medical laboratory sciences, and animal and range science—were accredited by their respective organizations last year. The new architecture program reached its first milestone on the five-year path to accreditation. The Board of Regents has approved the process leading to accreditation for four programs—agricultural business, agricultural and resource economics, economics, and entrepreneurial studies—by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a premier accrediting body. The 2010 pharmacy class posted a 100 percent pass rate on the national exam. Our faculty’s grant and contract awards exceeded $67 million for the first time in University history.

The visible changes continue, as well. The Electrical Engineering and Computer Science addition and the McCrory Gardens Education and Visitors Center are nearing completion. Construction will start in the next year on another new residential life complex and another addition to the University Student Union to accommodate dining services.

The University has survived budget challenges in previous years, too. Enrollment continues to grow at a steady, manageable pace, particularly in graduate programs. The number of graduates increases every year at a comparable rate. Our alumni and donors continue to share a vision of national distinction and continued local relevance.


Thank you again for your continued support.


David L. Chicoine, Ph.D.


Class of 1969



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