NSU, SDSBVI seek approval for collaborative project


ABERDEEN, S.D. – Northern State University and the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired are seeking approval on a joint project that will include a new multi-million dollar home for SDSBVI.

At its meeting next week, the South Dakota Board of Regents will vote on proceeding with construction of a new School for the Blind and Visually Impaired at a cost of $13.7 million. All funds will be privately raised, and the project is a critical step in keeping SDSBVI located in Aberdeen.

“We want to remain in Aberdeen – to keep the jobs and learning opportunities in our community,” said Superintendent Dr. Marjorie Kaiser. “This partnership with Northern allows that, and we’re excited to work together on it.”

The Regents meet Oct. 3-5 at Dakota State University in Madison. The agenda includes approval of construction of the new School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; approval of moving forward with NSU’s privately funded $5 million athletic and recreation fields project; and exploration of the possibility of building an on-campus regional sports complex.

Capital Campaign

These plans are a collaborative effort between SDSBVI and NSU (a component of Northern’s campus master plan). The campaign involves multiple tiers—each of which relies on the others. The proposed site of the new School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is the current site of Jerde Hall, which is scheduled to be demolished in 2018. The current SDSBVI site is the area being explored for a regional sports complex. At this point, no part of the campaign is expected to require legislative funding.

NSU President Dr. Timothy Downs said the university is thrilled at the chance for this collaborative effort. The plan includes providing SDSBVI students and staff access to NSU’s new athletic and recreational fields (located east of Jerde Hall). NSU faculty and staff will continue working jointly with SDSBVI faculty and staff on the development of revised and new special education programs offered by NSU’s Millicent Atkins School of Education.

“We already have sufficient funds pledged and there’s a significant amount of support and interest in these projects,” Downs said. “We’ve always had a great relationship with the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and I’m pleased to be able to make that relationship even stronger.”

NSU-SDBSVI collaborative efforts will also include access to the new SDSBVI building by students from the transitional learning communities (TLC) program facilitated by Aberdeen Central High School. Select TLC program participants will be offered the opportunity to live in Northern’s residence halls while enhancing their learning and life skills. They will also be offered developmental opportunities on the Northern campus and in the SDSBVI facility. All of these activities will be designed to help prepare TLC students to live independently.

Exciting Opportunities

A new school offers exciting possibilities for the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

“We think that with a new building we have a chance to be a national presence in the education of students who are blind or visually impaired,” Kaiser said.

The campaign also offers new opportunities for moving the NSU campus forward.

“To remain competitive, we have to update facilities and programs, and that’s what this project does for our campus and the community of Aberdeen,” Downs said. “This is a game-changing time for Northern and the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the entire region.”

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.