Press "Enter" to skip to content

Budget Cuts Eliminate 26 SDSU Jobs… and Counting

Last updated on 2011.04.17

South Dakota's K-12 public schools aren't the only educational institutions being hammered by the Russell Olson-Dennis Daugaard budget cuts. South Dakota also seems determined to eliminate vital programs in our public university system. Our largest, most successful, most academically diverse campus, South Dakota State University, hacked 26 jobs from the payroll yesterday.

SDSU is shutting down the Olson Agricultural Analytical Service Laboratory, which will put 17 people out of work. The lab provides a wide range of test and analysis services, available to South Dakota residents at a discount. As my friend and senior OAASL chemist Lawrence Novotny tells the SDSU Collegian, closing the lab is a big mistake, since it generates its own income.

SDSU is also eliminating Ag-Bio Communications, which will put nine of our neighbors out of work. This office translates all the ag research SDSU does into accessible publications our farmers and industry can use. Ag-Bio Communications is involved with the educational TV programs Garden Line and On Call. As SDSU journalism professor Lyle Olson notes, the fact that SDSU is cutting these services seems to go against its core mission as a land-grant university to support agriculture and public service in South Dakota.

Meanwhile, South Dakota's trust fund balance is booming, and Dems are asking why the state is hoarding money. So, I imagine, are at least 26 soon-to-be-former state employees in Brookings.

Update: Meanwhile, Uncle Sam is sending SDSU $1.7 million via the USDA to conduct more bioenergy research.

Update 17:14 CDT: SDSU has announced it will close all county extension offices in the state and replace them with seven regional extension offices in Aberdeen, Faith, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Watertown. It will also keep open tribal extension offices in Eagle Butte, Mission, and Porcupine. One friend listening to the radio heard this restructuring means 99 extension service employees lose their jobs... but they can all apply for spots at the seven regional centers. Read SDSU's big PDF document detailing the cuts here.

Update 2011.04.13: That Sioux Falls paper reports the net job loss for Extension will be 17.

...and Elisa Sand does fine work putting the Extension cuts into local perspective, talking about the impact on the Lake County office.

Update 2011.04.17: More evidence that all this GOP budget-cutting could be about privatizing everything: South Dakota Extension chief Barry Dunn says he expects Extension to provide even more opportunities with less staff, more volunteers, and "a very different business model" relying on "support from private entities." Says Dunn, "We have to become entrepreneurial and grow this budget."


  1. David Newquist 2011.04.12

    What is not reported in the closing of programs and the firing of employees is how the people involved are affected. Having been involved in a faculty union, I have seen people's lives destroyed in retrenchment actions. Not having much in the way of financial resources to begin with, they were impeded seriously in finding other jobs and making the transitions to them. These people have knowledge and skills that are lost to the state. They go elsewhere, if they are lucky enough to find jobs in their fields of expertise. Others survive by submitting to the movement away from enterprises which create products and knowledge and replacing lost jobs with low skill level, low pay service jobs. As the ad says, it is a tragedy to let a good mind go to waste, but we live in a state that has little use for good minds. Both the minds and the cultural, social, and intellectual contributions they make are lost, and those that aren't make their contributions in other places. This whole episode reveals the essential character of the state.

  2. Eve Fisher 2011.04.12

    As I've said before, it's the children - and college students - who are going to pay for the rest of their lives, because they don't get a do-over on their education. SDSU already got rid of most of their adjunct professors, because they weren't contract and so could be canned. These adjuncts (of whom I was one once) are the ones who teach primarily 100-level introductory classes in everything, and who made it possible to keep those classes under 100 students per class (I had an average of 98 per class). Now, those classes are going up in class size. Bill Gates may say it doesn't matter how big the class is, as long as the teacher is great. Now, not to blow my own horn, but I got consistently great student/teacher evaluations, and I can tell you, you get 150 students in a class, they might as well be watching TV. And that's not a good thing.

  3. tonyamert 2011.04.12

    Point of information here. They claim they are generating their own "income". I believe that they may be generating some income, but definitely not enough to support their positions. If they were, they wouldn't be terminated. I believe these are considered soft money employees (like myself). So long as we bring in enough funding to support ourselves our jobs are safe. However, they have been depending on subsidization from the state so when that money dries up so do their contracts.

    I don't know how to feel about this issue. On one hand I feel that it's good to create competitive incentives for employees like myself. But on the other, whoever is the director of that facility really screwed up. Having something like that close is a long term decision. This has been building for a long time. I'm surprised the employees of the facility weren't informed a long time ago that they were on the potential chopping block.

  4. JohnKelley 2011.04.12

    Typical and predictable.They are cutting folks furthest away from the flagpole - the vital educational out reach folks, so they can all the better talk-amongst-themselves. Until the administrations, administrators, administrivia are slashed SD will have no education reform. It's a modern miracle how Wyoming can function for over 100 years with one university.

  5. Jana 2011.04.12

    I hope that all of these students being asked to bite the bullet and take a decline in services and an increase in tuition have long memories.

    They need to ask themselves why when choices were made in Pierre by the Governor and the Republican legislature why they were singled out for a 7% increase in tuition and to accept less service.

Comments are closed.