Regents make first change from SB 55 work, consolidate West River nursing programs

Capitol News Bureau

MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota State University would take over all nursing education for western South Dakota in January 2022 under an expansion plan approved Wednesday by the state Board of Regents.

The courses would be delivered at the Black Hills State University-Rapid City campus and the seats would grow to 144 from 48. The University of South Dakota nursing program in western South Dakota would be inactivated.

The consolidation marks the first major recommendation from the Senate Bill 55 task force that recently wrapped up its meetings. A final report is in preparation for the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee and the governor.

Regents executive director Brian Maher said Wednesday the board would take “a deeper dive” into the SB 55 details Thursday.

“This was a very difficult task,” regent Joan Wink of Howes said about reorganizing the West River nursing programs. She praised Maher for pulling together leaders from the three campuses.

“I just think it makes a ton of sense to consolidate that program,” regent Pam Roberts of Pierre said. “Major kudos.”

Janice Minder, the regents system’s vice president for academic policy and planning, presented the consolidation and expansion recommendation. She said growing to 144 seats would meet the need of the western counties.

“This was a difficult decision,” Minder said, noting that USD took part “diligently” in the transition. “And I appreciate the willingness of the campuses to work together.”

According to a regents’ news release, USD would no longer admit new students into its Rapid City program. Instead, all currently admitted USD students at Rapid City, including those enrolling for fall 2021, would complete USD’s bachelor nursing degree, with the final group expected to graduate in spring 2023.

The change does not affect USD nursing students enrolled at other instructional sites in South Dakota, the release said. 

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