The University of South Dakota has launched a new college dedicated to innovation and workforce development in Sioux Falls, replacing USD efforts in what was formerly known as University Center-Sioux Falls (UCSF).

The new institution is known as USD Community College for Sioux Falls.

The new college is led by Carmen Simone, Ph.D., who was the executive director of UCSF. In her new role, Simone is a USD vice president and dean.

During an interview with the Plain Talk in early April, Simone noted that the new college had not yet received its name.

“Dr. (Paul) Beran, who is the executive director and the CEO for the South Dakota Board of Regents office, has it in his hands. He was in the meetings when the presidents had the conversations about the details of the MOU (memorandum of understanding) and the final pieces that they wanted to see included in it. From my understanding they came to an agreement that the board has approved about a week and a half ago now,” Simone told the Plain Talk, “and they’re just waiting for Dr. Beran to get that in writing and typed up so they can sign it. A piece that they’re also negotiating is the name of the new college and we’re all waiting with bated breath to see what that name is going to be.”

An April 5 press release issued by USD announced that the university was launching a new college in Sioux Falls. At that time, the new school, as Simone mentioned, had not yet been named and USD hasn’t yet formally informed the public of the new college’s name.

USD President Sheila Gestring surprised South Dakota legislators during a meeting in Pierre in late April when she told them the new college will be known as the USD Community College for Sioux Falls.

Information about the college can be found by searching USD’s web page.

UCSF, Simone said, was a university center umbrella that housed programs from three different South Dakota public universities -- USD, South Dakota State University and Dakota State University.

“Part of what we’ve been struggling with as University Center is we’ve not really had an identity and it makes it very hard to market programs and support students when you don’t have an identity,” she said. “I’m excited that they’re going to clarify that.”

Simone has been executive director of what was formerly known as the University Center in Sioux Falls since Jan. 2. The University Center’s change into a USD community college was set up three years ago, she said, by a MOU signed among the three institutions (USD, SDSU and DSU) that set up funding mechanisms and operations. That agreement had a three-year time limit so that the proposed change would be reviewed again.

That review occurred at the April 3 Board of Regents meeting held at Black Hills University in Spearfish.

“That was in the works for quite a few years. I just happened to have the timing to come in towards the tail end when they were trying to pull that all together and decide how they were going to shift,” Simone said. “What we were doing previously in the last MOU really was financially not working for two of the three institutions. It made it very difficult, as relationships moved forward, fighting about money and students. It just wasn’t a good, cohesive model for us.

“Hopefully, now we’re going to have a model that’s much better going forward and won’t be as impactful financially on all of the institutions.”

Simone said USD had been the lead institution at what was UCSF for at least three years.

“They (USD) are taking it to the next step and putting it under their umbrella as a new college so that their efforts there are very well defined,” she said. “Rather than being an add-on to what the university is doing, it’s becoming a part of the university’s DNA.”

“USD is well-positioned to serve the community of Sioux Falls by offering an accessible, flexible and relevant educational experience to South Dakota high school graduates who do not currently go on to postsecondary education,” Gestring said in an April 5 press release. “The new college will also offer forward-looking degree programs that serve the Sioux Falls area’s workforce needs.”

The new college will provide access to the following USD degrees:

• Associate of Arts in General Studies

• Associate of Science in Integrated Science

• Associate of Arts in Graphic and Web Design

• Bachelor of Science in Technical Leadership

• Bachelor of General Studies

In addition, USD will also serve Sioux Falls with credit-bearing certificates, noncredit workforce training, dual credit delivery to local schools and lifelong learning opportunities.

SDSU and DSU will continue to offer complementary course offerings that showcase the strengths of DSU and SDSU, including programs like cybersecurity, nursing, web development and healthcare coding.

Many of these programs, Simone said, have been offered in Sioux Falls by USD’s College of Arts and Sciences and have been in place in Sioux Falls for years.

“They’re just repackaging what was there and labeling it, branding it in a different way,” she said, “so it becomes something that has an identity and can be marketed for students and we can talk about it much more cohesively.”

There still will be a SDSU and DSU presence in Sioux Falls, but those two universities are not launching new colleges there.

“What they’re doing is keeping the programs they have in place, just like USD had been doing,” Simone said. “They’re keeping their programs there, in Sioux Falls and USD will be supporting those programs with student services and some of those components.”

DSU is offering five associate degrees in Sioux Falls, she said, and SDSU is offering two associate degree programs.

“We’re making sure that the students are all supported regardless of what their home institution is,” she said. “I always like to say ‘I don’t want to put hats on students. I don’t want to treat them differently because they’re coming from a different institution.’ They all deserve the same level of support.”

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