Dakota State seeks funds to expand IT programs
By ELISA SAND, Staff Reporter
South Dakota legislators advanced a funding request for Dakota State University to expand its cyber security programs out of committee and to the full Senate for consideration.|
DSU President David Borofsky appeared before the Senate Appropriations committee with Senate Majority Leader Russell Olson last week to ask for $900,000 to cover the cost of adding four new faculty members over a three-year period.
"At the end of four years, we'll have what we need to set the program on a path to move forward, and the program would be self-sufficient with the program enrollment," Borofsky said.
Committee members heard testimony on Thursday but deferred action until Tuesday's committee meeting, at which time the board approved the request, replacing the $900,000 request with $1. The bill was to go before the full Senate on Wednesday (today).
In an e-mail Tuesday afternoon, Olson said, replacing the dollar amount with $1 is part of the appropriations process when any spending bill is under consideration. That way, a bill can be argued on its merit.
"The dollar is good news and means the bill should leave the Senate (Wednesday) and we will amend on the House side with a dollar amount," he said.
Olson said he's had great reception to the bill so far and hopes the House agrees that $900,000 is an appropriate amount.
During Thursday's testimony, Olson said that DSU is facing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire property within the city of Madison that would expand the campus.
"We have a unique opportunity with SB236," Olson said. "We have a privately owned hospital in Madison that has made the decision to move forward with a $36 million facility. Everything south and north of the hospital is the DSU campus."
DSU had initially developed plans to build an information technology building on campus, and a portion of the fund-raising efforts through the university's Capital Campaign was directed toward that effort.
Additionally, Higher Education Financing Funds (HEFF) have been earmarked for a signature IT building at DSU.
Borofsky said the funds earmarked for the IT building will now be redirected toward the purchase and renovation of the hospital, which is 10,000 square feet larger than the proposed IT building.
Borofsky said the funding will be used in phases, hiring two new faculty members the first year and one each the next two years.
"$900,000 isn't chump change, but it's realistic dollars," Olson said, explaining that he initially thought the university would need closer to $2 million to expand its programs.
"DSU crunched the numbers and came up with $900,000," Olson said.
Olson also pointed to DSU's unique position in the cyber security world with its 2012 designation as one of four Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations by the National Security Agency.
"We're out in front of the cyber security world," he said. "Other universities are coming to us asking for advice."
Borofsky said the funds will allow DSU to expand program sections on campus and also to obtain the expertise in other areas the university has been considering for new programs.
Borofsky said the additional faculty will provide the necessary support staff to expand enrollment in the doctoral program.
Jack Warner, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents, said the opportunity to purchase the building came after the Regents prepared their requests for the Legislature.
"DSU has a Center of Excellence in a cluster of IT programs," Warner said. "The board supports that mission and is interested in seeing that grow. We support the notion that lies behind this."
Asked if there were grant funds available for expanding personnel, Borofsky said that DSU has worked with the NSA regarding curriculum development, but the NSA looks to see matching dollars and investments of state funds in the programs as well.