USD President Sheila Gestring spoke at Tuesday’s Student Government Association (SGA) meeting and delivered some news regarding USD’s improvement in a variety of areas.
“USD, since 2005, has actually decreased its spending per degree by 8.4%. Regional peers have gone up 4.7%,” Gestring said.
She attributes this success to growing graduation rates.
“We’ve increased our effectiveness. Obviously, costs have risen in ten years, but we’re graduating more students,” Gestring said. “That cost per degree is an indicator of how much more effective we’ve become just in the last 10 years.”
Gestring also reported that students have saved over half a million dollars on textbooks this fall semester, thanks to the new book store. Retention rates have also climbed higher. Gestring stated the rate was 72% a few years ago, but it’s likely to hit 78% this year. She said her goal is 82%.
“We spend a lot of time and effort recruiting students,” Gestring said. “We’re going to spend some time re-recruiting while you’re here as well.”
Neil Fulton, dean of the law school, also spoke at the meeting. He expressed concerns with the law school, as it seems isolated from the rest of campus.
“One of the main things I think we really need to do at the school is a change our culture a little bit,” Fulton said. “I really did feel this disconnect between the rest of the university and the law school and that’s just a huge missed opportunity.”
He said he wants students to understand that the law school is open to all students.
“It’s the state’s law school. We’re a resource for everyone in the state of South Dakota,” Fulton said. “You are always welcome in the law school.”
This isolation Fulton discussed might not be unique to just the law school. SGA President Carson Zubke acknowledged the dilemma, but he thinks student organizations can help break down these barriers that exist between departments on campus. Zubke said that 26 organizations attended the Campus Leaders Mixer last week, and these meetings could help increase overall communication at USD.
“We’ve definitely been working to improve that on a student organization level, as far as collaboration between orgs and departments on campus,” Zubke said.
Later in the meeting, the senate discussed Senate Bill 76, titled “A Bill to Enhance Senatorial Debate and Discussion.” The bill called for every bill to be read aloud before SGA votes on the bill. This is to ensure that senators aren’t voting on bills that they haven’t read yet. SGA members would have the option to unanimously vote to not read a bill aloud at meetings if it’s a long and time-consuming document.
“We all chose, on the executive team as senators, to be in that room every Tuesday night, so it’s important for us to be mindful of that commitment and come prepared to meetings,” Zubke said. “It’s difficult to make informed decisions when there’s instances of where someone might not be reading legislation before they come into that room.”