Next week the South Dakota Board of Regents will discuss Dr. Joseph A. Hartman's review of the geology and geological engineering program at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. The UND geology professor visited campus last April. His findings support the argument I find myself making all too often about South Dakota's education funding: money by itself does not guarantee better education, but sometimes you have to spend more money to meet basic needs.
Dr. Hartmann identified a number facilities upgrades that will require spending in the coming years:
- GGE classroom and teaching facilities cannot support the 5% annual increases in undergraduate enrollment increases mandated by the Mines 2020 Strategic Vision and Plan.
- GGE laboratory sections require "hands-on" training and there is little room for either larger lab sections or increased numbers of lab sections.
- Mineral Industries (Ml) building requires renovation because of circuitry, HVAC, and asbestos.
- New space for GGE is a top priority in Mines 2020 Capital Campaign fund-raising [Dr. Joseph H. Hartman, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Geology and Geological Engineering program review, 2014.08.24, p. 17].
If we want more scientists and engineers, the students we train to that end will need more classrooms and laboratories to develop the skills we crave.
Dr. Hartman also identified some equality issues that require some fiscal will:
One that resonated was access to female bathrooms on all floors in the GGE building. Because of course scheduling conflicts (back to back, as a simple example), women students are not able to visit a bathroom conveniently and thus be late for class. They considered this a Title IX concern.
Subsequent to my visit I learned that “The lack of women's bathrooms on the first and third floor of the building is well known to all women faculty, staff, and students who use the building and the latter two groups have made periodic requests to facilities and the administration to remedy it. The bathrooms were renovated several years ago but, inexplicably, the male restroom on the second floor was made co-ed, but no attempt to provide female restrooms on the other floors was made” (Maribeth Price, August 2014). Apparently, this is a failure of the School to address a long-standing problem despite faculty and student concerns and repeated requests [Hartman, 2014.08.28, p. 9].
Dr. Hartman also notices a lack of electronic journals and a lack of funding for trips to academic conferences.
Classrooms, laboratories, and bathrooms don't just bubble up from the ground like the lava our Hardrockers study. Professional geologists don't come from walking around the courtyard having Socratic dialogues. Fulfilling its mission requires spending more money. We'll find out this session whether our Legislature is willing to put its money where its mouth is, or whether it will continue to expect professors and students to find their own resources.