SD Mines president outlines future vision for school

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The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology’s new president outlined his vision for the university under his leadership in a press conference Thursday.

President Jim Rankin, himself a 1978 graduate of the school, said that economic development and opportunity will be a cornerstone of his presidency.

He envisions a 5 to 10 percent increase in enrollment each year, bolstered by the extension of in-state tuition benefits to Nebraska and Colorado residents. Rankin also seeks to increase funding for scholarships as well as facility improvements.

With Mayor Steve Allender’s plan to expand the downtown district east of Fifth Street, and the planned expansion of the school’s Business Innovation Center, Rankin sees the school playing an ever more important role in the downtown community.

“I think it’s really important for the downtown to connect with the campus,” Rankin said. We’ve always had that little bit of distance between us, and I think as we add new businesses, we want to participate in that. If we can help with company attraction, if we can help with startup companies, we’d love to do that.”

And with Mines students enjoying a 98 percent post-graduation placement rate, Rankin hopes new, out-of-state students will choose to make South Dakota their home, keeping their talents and business in the Mount Rushmore State.

“We would really like students coming in from out-of-state to be new South Dakotans,” Rankin said. “We’d like them to come to school here, graduate, and stay in South Dakota. It’d be great if they stayed in Rapid City or the Black Hills; it’d be great if they stayed in West River. But we’d really like them to just stay in South Dakota and help with our economy.”

The new president said he plans to visit each department for talks with students and faculty to learn more about ongoing research, and develop plans to increase the opportunities the school offers prospective students.

Rankin also made it a point to mention the academic success demonstrated by Mines students. Nearly 700 students were named to the fall Dean’s List, and more than 150 student athletes have been honored for academic excellence.

“This is a great university,” he said. “We really want more students to come here and enjoy the benefits and enjoy the life we have here.”

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