Aug. 4, 2017
Lake Area Technical Institute, recipient of the national Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, and South Dakota State University, South Dakota’s 1862 land-grant university, are pleased to co-announce the Opening Doors Initiative. The initiative is a commitment to expand access to higher education for all South Dakotans by simplifying the transfer process, offering education through innovative delivery methods, and providing a support system for student success.
The two entities have had a long-standing agreement for general education course transfer and articulation of other courses but have been working together for the past year to develop cross-articulation agreements unlike anything the state has ever seen between two public entities of higher education. The Opening Doors Initiative will allow students to seamlessly move between the colleges to obtain their desired level of education and skills training while minimizing credit loss that often occurs during the transfer process.
Lake Area Tech President Mike Cartney explained, “Both institutions see college as a pathway, not a destination. But before people take the pathway, we have to open the doors to college entrance, and sequentially the doors to careers, career advancement and lifelong learning. In many cases, people are not even aware that these doors exist. The Opening Doors Initiative is not only about opening those doors, but it’s also about making people aware of the opportunities that exist and giving them the confidence they can do it.”
Opening Doors is a broad effort by Lake Area Tech and SDSU that encourages higher education, industry and governmental entities to work together to open doors for all South Dakotans. The two colleges are leading the way by building student confidence through language support, proactive enrollment, public awareness of the value of college, the return on investment, and by making college relevant. One way is by offering dual-enrolled programs of study that give 100 percent credit to students for selected programs taken at the two institutions. The initiative helps merge South Dakotans’ occupational and educational careers by graduating lifelong learners, recognizing the educational merit of on-the-job experiences and training, developing apprenticeship programs, and recognizing that some things cannot be learned “on-the-job.”
“The South Dakota Board of Regents developed a goal of educating 65 percent of our citizens by achieving a postsecondary credential—either a diploma or degree. The motivation fits perfectly with the initiative we have been working on together,” SDSU President Barry Dunn said.
Opening Doors has allowed both colleges to look beyond traditional articulation agreements and develop a highly valuable pathway to lifelong learning. Dunn added, “Society extends far beyond an individual having a degree, it’s about bettering humanity—it’s about opening doors for people.”
About Lake Area Technical Institute
Lake Area Tech has been recognized as the number one, two-year college in the nation by the Aspen Institute Community College Excellence program. In 1965, the founding fathers of technical education in South Dakota voted unanimously to organize the first technical school in Watertown. Approximately 2500 full-time and part-time students attend classes in 29 programs of study. With a student teacher ratio of 16:1, students receive personal attention from experienced instructors. Students who attend Lake Area Tech earn a quality education, as proven by receiving the high-ranking accreditation by The Higher Learning Commission. Many of the programs also have their own accreditation status. Lake Area Tech has also received numerous state and national honors and has been recognized as a leader in their industry.
|About South Dakota State University
Founded in 1881, South Dakota State University is the state’s Morrill Act land-grant institution as well as its largest, most comprehensive school of higher education. SDSU confers degrees from six different colleges representing nearly 200 majors, minors and specializations. The institution also offers 35 master’s degree programs, 15 Ph.D. and two professional programs.
The work of the university is carried out on a residential campus in Brookings, at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City, and through Extension offices and Agricultural Experiment Station research sites across the state.