Governor Noem challenges Board of Regents to improve higher education

PIERRE, S.D.(Press Release) – On Thursday, Governor Kristi Noem challenged the South Dakota Board of Regents (BOR) to make South Dakota an example to the nation of what quality higher education should look like. In a letter to the Board, Governor Noem charged them with the responsibility of revitalizing the institutions under its control and leading the nation by example. You can read the full letter here.

Governor Noem began the letter with the following statement:

“Across the nation, higher education is in a state of crisis. For the last several decades, many states have allowed liberal ideologies to poison their universities and colleges. Once a hotbed of ideological diversity, debate, and the pursuit of truth and discovery, many institutions have become one-sided, close-minded, and focused on feelings rather than facts. Professors have discarded reason and logic in favor of subjectivity and relativism. Higher education leaders have rejected universal truth and knowledge and replaced it with ‘individual truth.’

“On campuses across the country, students have been taught the importance of diversity and equity and given access to ‘safe spaces’ instead of learning to tolerate the disagreement, discomfort, and dissent that they will experience in the real world. In many cases, students and their parents are not even aware of the damage these ideas have caused.

“Less than half our students are even graduating, compared to 63% nationally. Students are also graduating with more debt and lower prospects at obtaining gainful employment. 43% of students who completed a college degree were underemployed after graduation. Countless students have been set up for failure – and charged tens of thousands of dollars for their trouble.

“As a country, we should be ashamed of this. As a state, South Dakota can show the nation what quality higher education is supposed to look like.

“I am charging the Board of Regents with the responsibility of revitalizing the institutions under its control and leading the nation by example. We must work together to ensure that we are providing an education that truly prepares our kids for the world they are entering. We must teach our kids a true and honest history of our great country. We must equip them with skills that will enable them to find meaningful, fulfilling careers. We must empower them to improve their communities, engage in the political process as well-educated citizens, and teach their kids to protect the gift we’ve all been given as citizens of the United States of America.”

Governor Noem challenged the Board of Regents to take the following actions:

  • Currently, BOR schools have a 47% graduation rate. In 2020, the national graduation rate for public schools was 63%. The Board of Regents should aim to raise graduation rates to at least 65% by 2028;
  • Take more steps to partner with businesses on registered apprenticeship programs and offer the lowest possible credit rates;
  • Remove all references to preferred pronouns in all school materials and any enforcement of such;
  • Remove any policy or procedure that prohibits students from exercising their right to free speech;
  • Prohibit drag shows from taking place on university campuses;
  • Find ways to cut costs to ensure the affordability of college;
  • Require a course in American Government and a course in American history as part of the general education graduation requirements; and,
  • Immediately review all funding sources of university centers and all donations to ensure there is no money coming into our education system from China.

Governor Noem also set up a whistleblower hotline for students, parents, taxpayers, and faculty to call to voice concerns about institutions of higher education. The call-in line for the whistleblower hotline is 605-773-5916.

“As Governor, my duty is to protect the people of South Dakota, ensure that their tax burden remains low, and spend those taxpayer dollars wisely. Together, we can and must set an example to the nation of what strong, conservative higher education can look like,” Governor Noem concluded.

Governor Noem recently appointed Jim Lochner and Doug Morrison to the South Dakota Board of Regents. She will be making additional BOR appointments in the near future.