Regents adjust naming policy and also grant exemption for NSU’s new ‘Thares Field’

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Board of Regents decided Thursday that Northern State University in Aberdeen should have a place that honors the leadership and generosity of one of its own.

The regents approved naming NSU’s new football field for Jim and Tracy Thares of Aberdeen. Jim Thares serves on the board.

Regents naming policy states, “Under ordinary circumstances, serving regents, elected officials, and institution employees are not eligible for naming.” But the policy also says, “The board may make exceptions to the standards and practices ordinarily required under this policy where, in its discretion, circumstances justify such departures to serve what it deems to be in the best interests of the particular school or the system.”

The regents wanted to recognize the roles of Jim and Tracy Thares in the Aberdeen community for decades and their leadership of the university’s educational-impact campaign the past four years. They’ve helped bring in more than $60 million in gifts in support of the construction of four facilities on the campus of NSU and the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired that is part of the campus.

The projects include the regional sports complex and its football facility, Dacotah Bank Stadium. The Thares also made what was described as “a substantial gift” to the university and the campaign.

Regent Tony Venhuizen of Sioux Falls, whose sideline is history, said he served as a student regent about 15 years ago when the policy was adopted. By contrast, he noted that South Dakota has approximately two dozen counties named after members of the territorial legislature. “There was a time when naming after cronies was a tried and true practice, but we don’t do that anymore,” he said.

The regents Thursday also adjusted the naming policy. Rather than continue having all decisions come to the board, they will let university presidents set generic names such as East Hall, while names of people, families or organizations will remain decisions of the board.

There was discussion but no decision on how long names should remain associated with a building or program.

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