Black Hills State University President Kay Schallenkamp speaks during a recent press conference announcing the $2.5 million donation from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford to convert the Jonas Science building into a facility to complement the Sanford Underground Research Facility's education efforts in Lead.
This is an artist's rendering of the new Jonas Science facility which will be a branch of the Sanford Science Education Center.
Black Hills State University is partnering with the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead in a $4.5 million project to convert the Jonas Science building on the BHSU campus into a facility to complement Sanford Lab’s education efforts in Lead.

The Sanford Lab is owned and operated by the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA), which is donating $2.5 million to the project. That money will come from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford’s gift of $70 million, which the SDSTA is using to convert the former Homestake gold mine into a world leading underground research laboratory.

Sanford directed that part of his donation be used for education. “Denny Sanford is committed to inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said SDSTA Board Chairman Casey Peterson. “Black Hills State University already plays a key role in our education programs, and this project will strengthen that partnership.”

Peterson also emphasized that education and outreach programs in Lead would continue, including a proposal to partner with the Lead Chamber of Commerce for a joint visitor center on Main Street.

BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp said the University would match the Sanford donation with $2 million from the Higher Education Facility Fund and other sources. “We are very appreciative of the generous gift by Mr. Sanford,” Schallenkamp said. “The redesign of Jonas Science will ensure that our students are being exposed to not only state-of-the-art facilities, but state-of-the-art pedagogy.”

Schallenkamp said the University will combine its premier teacher program with cutting-edge research at Sanford Lab to create new possibilities in teaching math and science.

The new facility will be a branch of the Sanford Science Education Center, which also will have facilities at the Sanford Lab in Lead.

University students working to earn teaching degrees will have the opportunity to work with scientists at the lab and collaborate on educational initiatives at the science education center. “Having this world-class science laboratory in our backyard has created new research opportunities for our faculty and students across a variety of disciplines.”

Faculty at the science education center at BHSU will conduct research on teaching and learning, support the training of current and future science teachers, develop and test educational materials and develop courses featuring underground research at the Sanford Lab. The campus center also will be linked to the underground lab by videoconferencing units, and it will include displays for visitors to the campus. “It’s another way we are creating innovative educational possibilities for our students and transforming the lives of both the students who attend BHSU, and the youth they will go on to teach,” Schallenkamp said.