The big issue of the next legislative session: How much water will the board of regents be able to draw from the well

In today's newly designed Argus Leader (Which means it takes a while to find anything), the South Dakota Board of Regents talks about how they're going to be going to the state legislature for more money to pay for the new SDSU president's salary, because taking money from University foundations might be a dicey practice, at best:

"When you have a single institutional governing board and a single foundation, it might work,'' he said. "But when you have a system and you have multiple, independent foundations, if all of these foundations don't participate in providing supplemental salaries to presidents, you end up with a situation in which basically the foundations establish the compensation program for university presidents.''

But the change raises new concerns.

Namely, from where will the extra taxpayer dollars come to cover the increases?

In the short term, the universities will look for the extra money from within existing budgets, even if it means taking it from current programs. Long term, however, they could ask the Legislature for more money.

"They're going to be asking for more money to replace that (foundation) funding," state Sen. Jerry Apa, R-Lead, said. "Does that bother me? Absolutely. This whole business of inflation creep in higher education just frustrates me, and now they're going to want more money? We'll be talking about that during session."

State Sen. Orv Smidt, R-Brookings, a member of the Legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee, said it won't be easy for the universities to replace foundation money.

"If there are real concerns and we need to change, I definitely will look at ways to do that through the state. But it won't be easy."

Smidt said the foundations linked to the individual campuses have provided financial help in many areas. None of the institutions has spare cash lying around to easily replace funding for programs that foundations currently help operate, he said.

Read it here. Now, this might not be a tremendous expense in and of itself. But it also comes on the heels of USD's announcement of a strategic plan to build itself into an elitist... er, sorry. build itself into an "elite institution:"

Nine months after university officials began receiving departmental requests for the strategic plan, President James Abbott released a finalized version last Thursday.

The plan outlines university goals regarding academics, research, enrollment, funding, organizational effectiveness and diversity at USD. It is set to be integrated between 2007 and 2012, but Abbott said its success will depend on student and faculty support.

"Is this what the best small public flagship university in the country would do? In every decision we make, we should be considering that," Abbott said.

Abbott said that the most immediate changes students will see will be in construction of the new student center, Business School and School of Medicine. Although not listed specifically in the plan, he said these facilities will help with continued education and recruitment.

"Students are always pleased with new and updated facilities, but I hope they are impressed with strengthening academics," Abbott said.

Other topics he highlighted included raising admission standards, revamping the IdEA program and initializing the Multicultural Center.
Read that all here. Now, according to the strategic plan they want to do such things on paper as:

  • Create an honors college,
  • Double the number of U.Discover Undergraduate Research Scholarships,
  • Fully implement the recently approved doctoral programs: Computational Science and Statistics (PhD), MD/PhD, Biomedical Engineering (PhD), Doctorate of Audiology (AuD), and Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT),
  • Develop new doctoral-level programs from within these candidate areas: Ecological & Evolutionary Informatics, Materials Chemistry, Political Science, Educational Leadership, Music History, School Psychology, and Occupational Therapy.
  • Provide library services, and access to information at a level consistent with Carnegie Research Universities with High Research Activity.
  • Develop a Multicultural Center that supports and celebrates diversity of all types, while strengthening the programming at the Native American Cultural Center.
  • Determine which undergraduate programs are to be offered at distance locations and develop those programs for distance delivery.
  • Create and develop the Office of Enrollment Management with the market research and management capability to build student enrollment.
  • Implement a prospect management recruiting process that increases state-support enrollment.
  • Identify and prioritize what facility and infrastructure improvements are needed to accomplish the strategic plan goals.
  • Develop a landscape and grounds master plan that incorporates the higher design expectations of today's constituents with a mandate for low-maintenance requirements.
And you can read all of this (and more) here. The biggest thing I see? That little section in this that notes "Identify and prioritize what facility and infrastructure improvements are needed to accomplish the strategic plan goals."

In other words, they're going to be going to the well of taxpayer funds for all of this, at the same time they are attempting to go into Division I sports.

I'd argue that when SDSU did it, they adopted a different tactic of laying low on the additional funding for the University. Here, USD is taking the opposite approach by going whole hog with a plethora of new programs.

My thoughts? Bad move. This next legislature is going to be a vastly different place and if things track as they are expected, they are arguably going to be holding a tighter grip on government's pocketbook.

With the Board of Regents showing up with requests for a nearly doubled salary expenditure for institution presidents, and USD wanting to be the world leader in everything, expect the tight-fisted Appropriations committees to put a foot down.


Brad S said…
I would support any sort of additional funding for USD that helps keep the School of Medicine in Sioux Falls and moves the School of Law to SF as well. It is high time that the state gear higher-ed services toward the population base.

Otherwise, if this grand plan Jim Abbott has does not do this, by all means reject it.
Anonymous said…
is this all there is to the "new Argus Leader"?
Anonymous said…
Brad S:

good call. I would fully support moving our post grad institutions into a geographic position where we could recruit top notch folks.

Jim Abbott gave his state of university speech the other day to a chorus of jeers and sneers from the crowd mostly composed of faculty and administrators.

When asked by one famed B-school prof why the funding outlook was so dismal Abbott threw everything he had at the guy. Abbott went on a tangent and showed why we were right for not electing him.

Of course the crowd wanted more money, more pay, more programs, etc... While we need to keep moving the universities forward we need to get the liberals out there so we can restore confidence with the legislature and the people that our money is being well spent.
Brad S said…
It's not even about "recruiting top notch folks." Relocation of Schools of Medicine, Law, and even Graduate centers has the salutary effect of having your prospective candidates entering the job market of your state's biggest city. Having your impoverished grad students drive 60 miles to SF to access internships does not do it.

I don't have that much of a problem with the main Vermillion campus (or SDSU) educating the undergraduate. It's just time to have higher ED in SD have some relevance to the overall economy/society.
Anonymous said…
The University of South Dakota has been named one of the nation's best colleges according to Washington Monthly. The magazine put out a college guide that ranks USD ahead of such schools as the University of Nebraska and the University of Kansas. The University of South Dakota was founded in 1862.
Brad S said…
12:19, You could give me a "ranking" that states USD is the Great Plains equivalent of Stanford, and it won't mean a thing if a poor grad student has to spend a lot of gas money to access the job market. My point about convenient job market access for grad students still stands.

Care to give me a breakdown of what percentage of USD grads go on to grad school at USD and how that compares with national averages?
nonnie said…
When Rounds says that he has so greatly expanded state aid to education, he is including colleges as well as K-12. Aid to K-12 has not increased, but higher education has. Put a cap on it is putting it mildly. Re-funnel some of these funds into K-12 where they are needed, instead of to yet another overpaid administrator at the university level.
Anonymous said…
Two points:

1 - The Regents budget request for this year does not include a request for executive salaries.

2 - In 1986, an in-state student paid 1/3 of the cost of college, and state aid picked up 2/3. Today it is reversed - the state pays 1/3 and the student pays 2/3. The reason for increasing costs in higher ed is that the Legislature HAS NOT provided inflationary increases to the Regents for operating expenses. The funding has gone to annual salary policy and new programs. The past two years, there was funding for increasing utility costs, but that has been the first time in years.
Anonymous said…
Brad, are we a little bitter about something? Most would be glad that SD was ranked above 51st in anything.
Anonymous said…
Sort of on a periphial topic - I think SDSU's new president looks like a good choice.
Haggs said…
I think we're going to see a war between K-12 education and higher education during the next legislative session. K-12 is already trying to get more money from the government through their lawsuit, but now they have to compete with SDSU and USD.

At the same time, Rounds just said that if the video lottery and cell phone bills pass in November, it will decrease the education budget for next year.

I don't like where this is heading.
Anonymous said…
Two thoughts:

1. Given that state funding represents at best one-third of the money required to run the system, those controlling the purse strings might do well to downplay their statements on the salary of the new president. Note to legislators: If you're not paying the entire bill, (and "the taxpayer" isn't), a bit of moderation is in order.

2. USD a "flagship university"? Puh-leeze. Note to Coyote fans: Just saying it doesn't make it so.
PP said…
YEAH! Go Jacks!
nonnie said…
I agree that the med school should be in SF. Undergrad in Vermillion, but for the sake of the students' safety and education, the med school should be located near the major hospitals where they get their training. Having to travel back and forth in SD weather is ridiculous. I think that's why USD wants a new med school; if it is built there, they will keep it there forever to justify the expense. For once put the students first and everything else after.

The law school could remain in Vermillion IMO as they have great facilities for that now and those students don't have to do almost daily commuting to SF.
Douglas said…
USD should say the hell with interscholastic athletics and let Silo Tech bask in the glow of its jocks.

I would think legislators would be wondering about the wisdom of destroying a 30-year-old or so student union building sitting next to the library and then seeing anything about improving the library in proposals.

Abbott isn't a liberal, he is a friend of corporations running food services and bookstores. Nothing like institutions bragging about serving SD and job opportunities busily farming out their services to out-of-state corporations.
Joan said…
I'm a USD grad, but I have always wondered why the med school wasn't located in Sioux Falls near the large hospitals.
The high cost of gas has to be creating hardships for some of the med school students. Nonnie also makes a good point about the dangers of driving on winter roads.
Locating the USD School of Medicine in Sioux Falls is the logical thing to do.
Anonymous said…
Unbelievable. Actually really funny. I can't believe I keep reading about the 'hardships' on graduate students having to drive to Sioux Falls. We're talking about law students and medical students! I'm sure school costs a pile of money, but don't forget that they will also make a pile of money in due time. So get over it!
Douglas said…
But, but...Sioux Falls got the penitentiary in the deal of the century now they want the colleges too? No end to the self-centeredness of the Sioux Fallsites.

What sure would be a good idea for he grad students and other students as well, make the activity fees optional. A lot of activity fees goes to keep jocks on the campus and many students driving to the campus never see a game.
nonnie said…
Douglas has a good point about the activity fees. My daughter went to USD for seven years and paid outrageous activity fees every year even though she had no interest in the sports there and only used the dome for exercise one semester or so (when not being used by the jocks, of course). It is very unfair to make students pay these fees. What would we think if the undergrad students were assessed fees every semester to fund the med school labs even though they never will use them? Same deal. Of course, sports rule and this will never change.

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