• June 2019
  • A PUBLICATION OF THE SIOUX FALLS AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
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Business community welcomes changes at University Center
Workforce development will be a focus for the College

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Dr. Carmen Simone
Community College for Sioux Falls

Planned changes at the University Center-Sioux Falls (UCSF) will allow the institution to be more responsive to the needs to students and the Sioux Falls community, according to University and Regental leadership.

The South Dakota Board of Regents this spring approved a plan to restructure the financial model of UCSF under the University of South Dakota. The location will now be known as the Community College for Sioux Falls. Dr. Carmen Simone, the current executive director of UCSF, will continue to lead the Community College as dean.

Simone said that stronger institutional ownership of programming and a simplified governance structure will allow the college to better communicate its mission to the Sioux Falls community. "Although the structure has changed, the commitment to serving students remains steady throughout this transition," she added.

The changes are a result of strategic planning several years in the making, a process that was supported by Forward Sioux Falls (FSF) included input from Sioux Falls business and community leaders.

The current Forward Sioux Falls program, laid out in 2015, identified the need for the Sioux Falls area to have a skilled and highly trained workforce. A key workforce analysis finding from the FSF Strategic Workforce Action Agenda revealed that "the state's lack of a traditional community college system has resulted in a structural disconnect between technical institutes and four-year colleges that limits credit transferability and often drives students outside South Dakota to finish their degrees."

Forward Sioux Falls provided support for systematic changes within University Center by helping to fund their strategic plan

Forward Sioux Falls provided support for systematic changes within University Center by helping to fund their strategic plan (completed by an organization called Future Works). At the request of the Board of Regents, FSF convened a task force to provide input for a potential repositioning of the University Center in Sioux Falls.├é┬áBusiness community input included the acknowledgment that our diversified and dynamic economy leads to a wide and growing range of workforce needs, from unskilled to technical skills, through doctoral degrees. Additionally, the education system should bridge the gap between technical training and university-level education in Sioux Falls–in essence, a community college-like strategy–and be nimble to accommodate opportunities that are upwardly mobile as our economy expands and changes.

The business community also recommended the formation of a local governance or oversight board. In 2017, FSF played a role in the formation of a University Center Community Steering Board, which served in an advisory capacity to the South Dakota Board of Regents.

Dave Rozenboom, FSF Chair and First PREMIER Bank President said that the recently announced changes at University Center are welcomed as they show alignment with recommendations made several years ago from the business community.

"The new model for the Community College for Sioux Falls will much better serve the 35 percent of students who currently don't participate in post K-12 education," said Rozenboom. "This is a positive step forward in our workforce development efforts."

In addition to providing access to five 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 and Bachelor of General Studies), the new college will offer credit-bearing certificates, noncredit workforce training, dual credit delivery to local schools and lifelong learning opportunities. USD will continue to partner with Dakota State University, South Dakota State University and Southeast Technical Institute.

Simone stated that workforce development is a focus for the Community College for Sioux Falls. "By offering accessible pathways to meaningful certificates and degrees locally, we hope to strengthen and diversify the available workforce in Sioux Falls."

"In addition, we plan to work closely with the local business community to provide professional development opportunities to current employees on an as-needed basis," Simone said. "This programming will be flexible and designed in partnership with businesses as an investment in their current workforce."

Business leaders who served on the Community Steering Board in 2017 have been invited to continue in an advisory role for the college. The Community Steering Board will combine with the UCSF Board of Directors and the UCSF Coordinating Group to form a single Joint Advisory Council. Additional members of the Sioux Falls business community may be invited to join.

The Joint Advisory Council has four purposes: to ensure direct, regular communication between the community and the Community College for Sioux Falls; to advise on current workforce opportunities and operational matters at the Community College for Sioux Falls; to provide input on strategic planning and the future development of the Community College for Sioux Falls; to advocate within the broader community for the Community College for Sioux Falls.

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