University Center undergoes name change and focus

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Amid declining enrollment numbers, the University Center in Sioux Falls is changing its name and focus. 

From now on it’s going to be called the Community College for Sioux Falls, offering two-year courses. 

USD’s president made the announcement Wednesday in front of lawmakers in Pierre.

The University Center has only been open for 10 years.  Enrollment reached a high of more than 3,800 students in 2010.  

By 2013, it was down to just more than 2,800 and it’s been falling every year since.  

Last fall, the enrollment was only 1,100 students.   But educators feel the name change and new focus will breathe new life into the institution. 

The sign still says University Center, but that will change this fall.  

“This change has actually been in the works for years,” Vice-President and Dean Carmen Simone said. 

Simone says the idea of converting the University Center into a community college became apparent when the enrollment began declining.  

“Partly because the University Center didn’t know who it was and it was very difficult to market when you don’t know who you are,” Simone said. 

Now, the school will target a different type of student, who would like to earn a two-year associates degree from USD, SDSU or DSU; the same three institutions that were already here.

“We want to serve students who aren’t being served by secondary education right now.  There’s a variety of reasons those students aren’t going on.  It could be financial.  It could be they have a job here, but can’t uproot their family and move to Madison or Brookings or Vermillion and those are the students we want to serve right here in Sioux Falls,” Simone said. 

The Community College will also work closely with businesses and companies to allow students to get hands-on training.

“It’s really not a conversion; it’s a renaming and refocusing of how we are going to do business there,” Paul Beran Executive Director of The South Dakota Board of Regents said. 

“For the students who are here right now, they won’t feel a change at all because we have been serving students here with our associate degrees for the last several years and the students who are in a particular degree program will have the opportunity to finish that degree program, as if nothing had changed at all,” Simone said.

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