Executive director says renaming technical institutes to technical colleges boosts public perception

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota technical schools will graduate from the word “institute” and become South Dakota technical colleges.

Governor Kristi Noem signed legislation to change the names of the state’s four technical schools.

Executive director of the Board of Technical Education Nick Wendell says the word college is important to the overall mission. He says this will help South Dakota better align with the rest of the nation. 48 states use the word “college” for their tech schools.

It’s not just homework. Angie Lucid is designing her future.

“I wanted to become more creative but also work with marketing and advertising,” Lucid said.

The media design major says she found the right education and hands-on work at Southeast Technical Institute. Eventually, it will be known as Southeast Technical College.

“I think it’s great they’re changing the name. I think we’re just the same as every other normal college in the state,” Lucid said.

But what’s in a name? To answer Shakespeare’s question, or yours, Wendell says re-branding as college helps tech schools recruit and retain students.

“Students and families want to go to college. And, so, I think the way we refer to ourselves matters,” Wendell said.

The change will affect Southeast Tech, Mitchell Technical Institute, Lake Area Technical Institute, and Western Dakota Technical Institute. Wendell says dropping “institute” in favor of “college” has been a years-long goal.

“One of our central missions has been to advance the public perception of the value of technical education in South Dakota,” Wendell said.

That value translates into preparing students like Lucid to become skilled professionals who will fill gaps in South Dakota’s workforce.

“We need to do everything we can to encourage more folks in South Dakota to consider technical education and consider a pathway that’ll bring them into high demand jobs in our state,” Wendell said.

Wendell says the work to transition has already begun. All of the schools have been slowly phasing out the word institute. The legislative bill becomes law in July. Wendell says, after that, you can expect to see a slow rollout of new signs and logos.

As for Lucid, she graduates this spring. She knows her future all starts with the important work she’s doing now.

“I’m going to be ready. I’m definitely ready to get into the workforce,” Lucid said.

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