Chicoine outlines priorities to legislature


Katie Wiles, Community News Service

SDSU President David L. Chicoine outlined SDSU’s priorities for 2008 in a briefing to the Joint Appropriations Committee of the S.D. Legislature on Jan. 23.

Five priorities were on Chicoine’s list, with competitive faculty salaries being the top focus.

Chicoine said that educating “leaders of tomorrow” is a core principal at SDSU. Providing this education requires quality staff, which, Chicoine said, also requires competitive compensation.

“If you don’t have competitive salaries, you’re not going to be able to attract people that can compete at the national level for grants and contracts,” Chicoine said.

Gary Lemme, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, also noted that places for people to work and study were needed to stay competitive, making maintenance and repair of buildings an additional priority.

The total cost of repairs for pressing needs is over $35 million. These needs include roof repairs on 12 buildings that have reached or exceeded anticipated life expectancy, replacing windows and boilers, maintenance on sewer lines, an additional 22 lecture halls accommodating more than 75 students each and replacing 4,819 classroom seats that are not compatible with laptop technology.

However, maintenance and repair of some classrooms is not enough.

Complete renovations of the Dairy Microbiology Building, built in 1962, and Ag Hall, built in 1953, are part of Chicoine’s priorities. These renovations would update 23 labs that do 70,000 tests on soil alone.

Lemme said that utilizing labs for research would enhance the quality of life in S.D.

Chicoine also noted that SDSU is recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching for being the state’s only high research activity institution.

Research is a key part of creating new knowledge and putting that knowledge to work, according to Chicoine’s core principals for the university.

“Putting knowledge to work drives economic opportunities. This results in solutions to problems, assistance to people and companies and in economic growth and development in the state,” Chicoine said.

SDSU’s research in agriculture alone has impacted the state’s economy.

Lemme said the value of beef chuck has increased 150 percent, a monetary value of $39.12 million, because of SDSU’s meat research.

He cited advances in research as a key factor to the success.

“It is the advances in research that has really helped foster the economic development in our rural communities and across our state,” Lemme said.

Technological advances will play a major role in future research, Chicoine said.

“We need to have modern computing and connectivity for our academic programs and research,” Chicoine said.

Advances in technology were on the university’s priority list.

Technological advances will include a high-speed network, high-performance computing clusters, ample data capacity and a mobile computing environment.

In addition, energy costs on utilities is one of the university’s priorities.

The school will spend $3.3 million in 2008 on utilities alone. The state only appropriates for $2.5 million of the cost, creating a shortfall.

With such a gap in funding, nearly $800,000 that would’ve been put towards academics will be used on utilities, Chicoine said.