|Left to right) Rapid City Mayor Alan Hanks, South Dakota Board of Regents member Dr. James Hansen, Board of Regents Executive Director Dr. Jack Warner, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology President Bob Wharton, and Black Hills State University president Kay Schallenkamp were among the dignitaries who spoke at the ground breaking ceremony for the University Center and participated in the ceremonial ground breaking.
A ground breaking ceremony was held recently for the University Center in Rapid City.
This University Center, located just off Interstate 90 at exit 61, will provide a convenient and accessible site for higher education classes and services delivered by the state universities.
“This is a banner day for western South Dakota,” Black Hills State University President Kay Schallenkamp said. “Today’s groundbreaking for the University Center notes the construction of a building that will provide opportunities for adult learners from throughout the region. This access gives adult learners the opportunity to grow professionally, to complete their degrees, and to advance in their careers. Preparing an educated workforce is critical to South Dakota’s future.”
South Dakota School of Mines President Robert Wharton echoed Schallenkamp’s sentiments about the center. “The School of Mines is excited to be a partner in providing education to the Black Hills region,” Wharton, said. “We recognize the important role the University Center will play in the economy of the region and are pleased the location will offer even more educational opportunities to Ellsworth Air Force Base personnel.”
For more than 50 years, higher education services have been offered in Rapid City by holding classes on Ellsworth Air Force Base. As the demand continued to grow, there has been a need to increase services and course offerings. Currently nearly 1,800 students are enrolled in 281 courses in Rapid City. Classes are held in numerous locations which created scheduling difficulties for students and limited their access to courses.
The 59,000-square foot University Center building will include 20 classrooms, a biology lab, a computer lab, an auditorium, seminar and conference rooms, gathering spaces for students to work in small groups, a bookstore, and a testing center, as well as offices where students can find help with admissions, financial aid, registration, or other needs.
Rapid City Mayor Alan Hanks praised the South Dakota Board of Regents and the leadership of the state universities for their collaborative planning and ongoing work to make the education facility a reality.
“This Center gives us the synergy to come together for educational opportunities,” Hanks said. There are so many people in Rapid City and the region who need access. Education is economic development. To increase the quality of life and increase wages in this region, we need to have an educated workforce.”