The University Center wants to do more to fill gaps in the Sioux Falls workforce.
And to do that, it needs more students.
Earlier this year, the center hired FutureWorks, a New Hampshire consulting company, to research and develop a new vision and mission statement for the University Center, as well as a three-year business plan.
The resulting 72-page plan will inform decisions on a strategic plan for the center moving forward.
“This is just a continual evolution of the University Center,”said Craig Johnson, executive director of the center.
The South Dakota Board of Regents will discuss the FutureWorks report Thursday during a meeting in Aberdeen, and Johnson said the center will continue working to reposition itself in Sioux Falls.
After five years of declining enrollment, the Sioux Falls University Center restructured last spring putting the University of South Dakota as the lead institution.
From that agreement came a recognition that to bring in more students, the center needed to do more to respond to the needs of Sioux Falls employers and create programs with clear pathways to careers or further higher education.
In January, the center entered into a $90,000 contract with FutureWorks with the goals of developing a new mission, a market analysis and a three-year strategic business plan.
FutureWorks’ plan includes a focus on making decisions with both students and the community in mind. It also recommends that the center choose a new name to go with the new mission.
The report includes recommendations for expanding two-year programs, especially in fields facing workforce shortages in Sioux Falls.
The report also advises the center to create an advisory group of business and community leaders.
FutureWorks also suggests attracting more first-generation college students, students who did not go to college directly from high school, and working adults who don’t have a degree.
If those populations were reached, the group projects enrollment could double within six years at the university. But Johnson isn’t putting too much stock in benchmark numbers.
He just wants to see growth.
“Right now, I couldn’t predict to you where we’ll be a year from now,” Johnson said. “We know it’ll be forward.”
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