Barry Dunn inks message following SDSU enrollment release

Barry Dunn, SDSU President

Collegian note: South Dakota State President Barry Dunn released the following statement after the South Dakota Board of Regents officially released enrollment numbers. 

Campus Community,

Earlier this morning the South Dakota Board of Regents released its fall 2019 numbers, followed by the university’s own news release. Enrollment for South Dakota State University is 11,518 students for fall 2019, down 4.9% from last year and 8.1% overall from two years ago.

As I said Sept. 10 during my State of the University speech, overall headcount is going to be a continuing challenge at SDSU for a number of years.

Last May we conferred 2,833 baccalaureate degrees, 200 more than the previous year and the second-highest number of degrees conferred in a year at SDSU. We saw our four-year graduation rate increase by nearly 6% last year and our retention rate has increased by more than two percentage points from the 2018-19 academic year to 78.3%.

These metrics are proof that we are achieving the goals set forth by our South Dakota Board of Regents to graduate students on time and at a lower cost to meet the workforce needs of our state, region and beyond.

But this does not solve the enrollment challenge we face as a university, nor does it help to answer what it means for the university moving forward. The university continues to rely more on tuition and fee dollars as state funding for higher education continues to decrease. Fewer students means less money to operate and we will need to reduce the size of our overall budget.

As I also announced during the State of the University, Vice President Rob Kohrman and his team in the Division of Finance and Administration have been projecting the impacts the drop in enrollment will have on the university. Now that we have finalized the enrollment number, they will be working to develop budget strategies for FY20 and beyond.

Through data and input provided by the Division of Finance and Administration, the University Budget Oversight Committee will prepare recommendations to me. I will base decisions off those recommendations, share with the campus community and implement.

The recommendations will be made with the intent of maintaining academic excellence and student success. We will continue to conduct important research and scholarly activities and engage in outreach that benefits the communities of South Dakota. It will be challenging, but we must find additional cuts that create operational efficiencies and still allow us to continue to achieve our goals in Imagine 2023.

I continue to call upon all faculty and staff to take an active role in helping to turn our enrollment challenge around during this academic year. Last week we released through the Monday Morning Message the white paper, “Forecasted Demographic and Demand Trends through 2032: Preparing South Dakota State University for a Strong Future,” that looks to the future and what demographics of our region will look like five, 10 and even 12 years down the road. I encourage you to read it if you have not already.

Additionally, we need to be purposeful and energetic with our student success model to continue to improve retention and exceed our annual goal of 80%. We must be strategic in identifying opportunities to collaborate and enhance our recruitment efforts for our fall 2020 class and beyond. We must continue to pursue excellence and impact through our research and our community engagement.

By the end of the day, please take the time to watch this inspirational video and reflect on the opportunities and challenges we have ahead. I am confident we can overcome these challenges and the result will be a bright, sustainable future with many exciting times ahead.

Thank you for your service to South Dakota State University. Have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to celebrating our many Hobo Day week traditions beginning Monday morning at 8 a.m.


Barry H. Dunn