News

Grand Opening Ceremony of Beacom Institute of Technology, including a major announcement of $60 million gift

Dakota State University in Madison, SD Receives Transformational Gift

Academics, Admissions, Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, the South Dakota Board of Regents and Dakota State University announced today that PREMIER Bankcard President and CEO Miles Beacom, his wife Lisa and Denny Sanford, owner of First PREMIER Bank and PREMIER Bankcard based in Sioux Falls have gifted the university $30 million. The transformational gift will fund the construction of the Madison Cyber Labs; scholarships for students; and support for additional faculty and staff.

The gift, which is one of the largest single gifts to higher education in South Dakota history, also leverages additional support. Gov. Daugaard has pledged $10 million from the Future Fund to support Dakota State University’s cybersecurity education efforts. In addition, DSU has committed to a goal to leverage a further $20 million in support from federal sources, as well as additional support from private donors.

These dollars will create a $60 million engine to bolster DSU’s Cybersecurity education and research programs.  In recognition of this gift, the Board of Regents has approved the renaming of the Dakota State University College of Computing to the Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences.

“We are very grateful to Miles (Dakota State ’81) and Lisa, Denny, the Governor and all our donors and partners for their generosity,” said Dakota State University President, Dr. José-Marie Griffiths. “These transformative gifts mean we will rise from an already recognized leader in Cybersecurity education to our nation’s best.”

DSU currently holds four prestigious Center of Excellence designations from the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security: the most technical for Cyber Operations and the most prestigious as a Cyber Defense Consultative Regional Resource Center.  Dakota State is one of only four universities in the nation to have this latter distinction – and one of only two universities in the country with four or more designations.

“All you have to do is listen to or read the news to know that the timing of this gift couldn’t be more critical. Last year there were about 300,000 unfilled Cybersecurity jobs in our country,” said Miles Beacom.  “I’m thankful for the opportunities afforded to me as a graduate of Dakota State.  I’m excited for the vision created by Dr. Griffiths…and humbled to be able to help this great institution, DSU, as tomorrow’s students, many of them from right here in our region, are perfectly positioned to help fill the workforce gap and protect and defend our citizens and our nation.”

“Dakota State University has been a ‘hidden gem,’ but with this gift the Beacom College at DSU will put South Dakota on the leading edge of cybersecurity,” Gov. Dennis Daugaard said.  “By the year 2020, organizations are expected to spend more than $101 billion on cybersecurity efforts to protect systems and data, and the Beacom College will be a major boost for DSU and Madison, and for our entire state. With this gift, Madison can continue to create a new economic development cluster which will attract high paying jobs, give former students the ability to ‘come home,’ create cutting edge companies and grow our state’s economy,” said Daugaard.

Bob Sutton, President of the South Dakota Board of Regents, said the gifts from the Beacoms and Sanford will be used to create new scholarships, additional cyber programs, and new staff and faculty positions at Dakota State.

“The students are the real winners here,” said Sutton.  “The job placement rate for many of Dakota State’s programs is 100%.  Not only are job prospects among the best careers available, students will now have a significant scholarship pool from which to compete – making an already affordable education that much more attractive.” 

A portion of the gifts will be used to help with the construction of advanced and secured facilities known as Madison Cyber Labs (MadLabs). Sutton says MadLabs will allow students, graduates and researchers to work on classified and proprietary projects for companies and the military all over the world. Dr. Griffiths concluded saying, “We are so grateful to our donors and want everyone to know that DSU is rising. We are rising to meet a national and global workforce and protection need. Rising in our reputation with the NSA, Homeland Security and technology companies. And, we are rising to a position of national and global expertise in cybersecurity education and research.”

The gift was announced during a dedication ceremony of the newly constructed Beacom Institute of Technology at Dakota State.  The 31,000-sq ft. LEED v4 Silver certified academic building is the first new building on campus in 30 years and is designed to advance innovative approaches to teaching and learning for students in all educational disciplines.

‘This truly IS the dawn of a new era for Dakota State University,” said Griffiths. “We are proud of our trajectory.  For anyone interested in learning more about why Dakota State is gaining a national reputation for cybersecurity education excellence, please visit our initiative website at DSUCyber.com/Rising.”