Last Updated on December 19, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
South Dakota Board of Regents institutions will discontinue four university degrees and consolidate two programs, as revealed in a recent program productivity report. The decision was based on factors such as low enrollment, low graduation rates, and a lack of financial viability.
The report, which included recommendations from the Senate Bill 55 task force, aimed to assess program and administrative efficiencies at state institutions. As a result, the revised policy now mandates annual reviews of flagged programs, instead of the previous seven-year cycle. This move aligns with the board’s commitment to evaluating program productivity every three years, with a mid-cycle review after three years.
Over the past 12 years, a total of 162 academic degrees have been discontinued. The latest review of 80 degrees resulted in 21 being flagged for further evaluation. Among the programs that will be discontinued are the communications/English program at Black Hills State University, the theatre and government programs at Northern State University, and the atmospheric and environmental science doctoral program at South Dakota Mines.
Interestingly, five teacher education programs were also identified in the review. However, these programs will be granted five years to assess workforce needs before facing another evaluation.
To optimize resources and expand opportunities, the Northern State and Black Hills State Spanish programs will be consolidated. They will subsequently merge with either South Dakota State University or the University of South Dakota through online programming.
The release of the program productivity report marks a significant milestone in the implementation of Senate Bill 55. Introduced in 2020, the bill aimed to improve program and administrative efficiencies while reducing expenditures and tuition costs. As a proactive measure, the bill led to the formation of a task force, which meticulously examined these aspects and submitted its findings in late 2021.
The Board of Regents actively sought this report to identify opportunities and vulnerabilities within the public university system. The ultimate goal is to enhance the financial resilience of the institutions and ensure high-quality education for students.
Overall, the program productivity report represents a step forward in streamlining programs and optimizing resources within South Dakota’s public university system. By periodically evaluating degrees and exploring new avenues for consolidation or online programming, institutions can adapt to changing demands while maintaining financial stability.