This story has been updated with a response from the governor’s office.
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Board of Regents could respond faster and better regarding concerns about the state’s public universities that people have been reporting to the governor’s office in recent months, according to a member of the board.
But a spokesman for the governor says the system’s working well the way it is.
Regent Jeff Partridge of Rapid City said the regents have formally asked to take over and manage the tip line that Governor Kristi Noem started in May. Partridge made his comments Thursday during the board’s meeting at South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City.
Partridge, a former legislator, served as Noem’s interim finance commissioner during the 2022 legislative session after he was appointed to the board by her in 2021. He said Thursday there would be several advantages if the regents directly ran the call line.
“We would be able to be efficient in dealing with these in a very timely manner,” Partridge said. And, he added, “If we coordinated our efforts, we’d be able to help the student even better.”
Partridge spoke after a report from executive director Nathan Lukkes regarding investigations by the various campuses of the concerns that have come in on the governor’s call line. Lukkes said some allegations were unfounded.
The governor doesn’t want to change, according to her chief of communications.
“The whistleblower hotline has been extremely effective to make sure that concerns are heard and hopefully addressed by the Board of Regents,” Ian Fury told KELOLAND News. “There are no planned changes in how the hotline is being administered at this time. The Governor’s Office will continue to run the whistleblower hotline and make sure it serves the people of South Dakota and our kids and grandkids.”
In a May 25, 2023, letter from the governor to the regents, Noem listed eight actions she wanted taken and outlined her plan for the call line.
“To help keep our institutions accountable — and ensure that we are all aware of what is occurring at our taxpayer-funded colleges and universities — I will be setting up a whistleblower hotline. Students, parents, taxpayers and anyone who wants to continuable (sic) to transparency and accountability within our institutions will be able to access this hotline at 605-773-5916. We will use the information we learn to guide policy decisions moving forward.”