Regents move toward using Rapid City center for combining West River nursing programs

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Nursing education programs that two eastern South Dakota universities offer in western South Dakota would be consolidated beneath one roof on the Black Hills State University-Rapid City campus, under a plan that received initial approval Tuesday from the state Board of Regents.

South Dakota State University will be responsible for delivering to the regents in October the preliminary facility statement for housing its West River nursing programs and those of the University of South Dakota at the under-used Rapid City site that was built in 2011.

BHSU, based in Spearfish, already operates the West River Health Science Center at the Rapid City campus and manages the campus, which carries a Box Elder street address.

A fourth regental institution, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, is also based in Rapid City with high-level science and engineering programs at its St. Joseph Street campus.

This spring at the BHSU-Rapid City campus, SDSU had 208 students in undergraduate and graduate nursing classes while USD had 68. They also use space donated by the Black Hills region’s major caregiver, Monument Health. SDSU also leases private office and classroom space on Mount Rushmore Road, while USD contracts with Western Dakota Technical College.

A national study predicts South Dakota will be 14% short of nurses by 2030. That would be third-worst, ahead of only Alaska at 22.7% and South Carolina at 16.6%.

Jeff Partridge of Rapid City, a former legislator and one of three new regents recently appointed by Governor Kristi Noem to the nine-member board, was assigned Tuesday to head the building committee for the project. The Legislature this year budgeted $30,000 for the preliminary phase. BHSU will provide another $10,000.

The physical changes could cost much more. Kathy Johnson, BHSU vice president for finance and administration, told the regents Tuesday the project will be back before them for further approval several more times before any construction begins.

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