Sioux Falls public college attempt hampered by enrollment

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – The state’s, and possibly Sioux Falls’ quest for a public college campus may be coming to an end.

The South Dakota Board of Regents wants to sell or get out of debt to what is now called the Community College for Sioux Falls. The options are included in a report plan and recommendations from the BOR l SB 55 working group.

The educational institution was established to meet the needs of students in the state and to provide higher education in the Sioux Falls area. The state did not offer state-funded tuition fees, and students ended up paying higher tuition fees.

Enrollment began to decline in 2011 and never recovered, meaning the center had less income to cover its expenses.

But it didn’t start like that. The campus once had more students than Augustana or the University of Sioux Falls, according to the KELOLAND News article.

According to BOR’s plan for the campus, the successes remain and one option is to keep some of those successes such as the Graduate Education and Applied Research Center (GEAR Center) at the University of South Dakota.

1992 to 2007

Changes followed the 1992 establishment of the Center for Public Higher Education (CPHE) at the Bergeland Center in downtown Sioux Falls, according to a history on the University of South Dakota Community College for Sioux Falls website. 2001 was an important year as the institution changed its name to USD.SDSU.DSU in Sioux Falls in June after moving to the Southeast Technical Institute campus in January.

Less than a year later, it was renamed USDSU.

A KELOLAND News article reported on July 29, 2004, that the USDSU had a fall enrollment of 1,825 students. The USDSU registration was right behind Southeast Tech’s registration and more than Augustana or the University of Sioux Falls, a USDSU official said.

Photo from SHU Community College website for Sioux Falls.

KELOLAND News articles from 2004 to 2007 reported an increase in registrations to the site, it was also noted that the intention of the USDSU was not to grant degrees. Instead, students would take classes at the Sioux Falls site, but still graduate from participating public colleges.

In each report, officials said the growth of the campus may reflect the growth of Sioux Falls.

An article published on January 3, 2006 by KELOLAND reported that registrations had increased by 65% ​​over the past five years.

“Ultimately, public higher education is essential in Sioux Falls and South Dakota for economic success and sustainability,” Governor Mike Rounds said.

In August 2006, the name was again changed to Sioux Falls University Center (UCSF).

Again, while not a fully-fledged public college that would offer degrees, the state legislature and students have acted as such.

The Legislative Assembly has decided to invest $ 36 million in a new campus with classrooms and a new research center.

Enrollment continued to increase and more course programs were added.

Enrollment was 1,900 students in the fall of 2006 and 2,100 in 2007, according to a KELOLAND News article on November 26, 2007. By this time, Northern State had joined the USD, South Dakota State University and the Dakota State University to offer courses.

A campus official said in 2007 that he wanted to increase enrollment by 67% over the next five to seven years.

Inscriptions decline, orientation and name change

UCSF added an administrative and classroom building and the GEAR building in 2009. A science and technology classroom building was added in 2011.

Even with the additions, the hope of enrollment growth in 2007 did not materialize.

The SHU Community College website for Sioux Falls said enrollment was down.

In 2012, the state BOR adopted a UC foundation to reduce tuition fees for general education courses in the hope of stabilizing the decline in enrollment. The USD website said registrations continued to decline in 2013.

After a meeting in 2015 with business leaders from Sioux Falls, the focus of UCSF began to change.

In 2016, the shift began to a two-year programming with USD named the lead institution. The USD Community College for Sioux Falls (CCSF) was established in 2019.

The enrollment declines cited in 2013 continued from 2016 to 2020, according to the BOR website. Full-time enrollments have grown from 1,301 students in fall 2016 to 578 in fall 2020, according to the BOR website.

Part-time registrations went from 717 in fall 2016 to 199 in fall 2020.

BOR plan suggests nursing, research use

While selling the science and technology classroom building is an option, the BOR also said in its report that SDSU could use the building for its health and science programs that are already present in Sioux Falls.

The GEAR program could be extended to the main building of the CCSF campus, according to the BOR plan. The research center is operating near maximum capacity and is considering expansion options, the BOR said.


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