USD med school building moves to design phase

USD med school building moves to design phase The South Dakota Board of Regents May 8 approved plans for a new University of South Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences building in Vermillion. Approval means USD officials can proceed with the design phase of the $31.7 million project. Nearly $26.7 million in funds already have been raised.

"This building is critical to the medical school's continuing accreditation," Regents President Harvey C. Jewett said. "The accrediting body expressed concern about the condition of the Lee Medicine and Science Hall already seven years ago, and has required subsequent reports in 1998 and 2000 as to our progress in addressing deficiencies."

Jewett said that's why the Regents are approving the facility plan today so design work can begin, even though about $5 million of the total cost is yet to be raised. "We cannot afford to jeopardize the school's accreditation," Jewett said. In addition, a substantial portion of federal grants worth $7.1 million will lapse in two years if a full design and construction contract is not in place by June 2005, he said.

Design work on the project will take about a year. Actual construction will occur in two phases over a four-year period. "While the design work is under way, the university will continue its fund raising efforts, with a goal of raising the remaining funds within the next year," Jewett said.

"I'm pleased that the Board of Regents has approved the plans for a new building for The University of South Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences," said President James W. Abbott. "The new building will make South Dakota's school of medicine an even greater asset to the state. For that reason, I am confident that the foundation will raise the needed funds in time to complete the project."

In addition to the federal grants already secured, the South Dakota Legislature in 2001 appropriated $12.5 million from the Higher Education Facilities Fund (HEFF) for the building project. HEFF funds come from 20 percent of student tuition. Slightly more than $7 million has been raised in private gifts and pledges, which include $3 million pledges from Sioux Valley and Avera health systems.

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