DSU receives $5 million donation for new information technology center

Two prolific philanthropists, First Premier Bank founder T. Denny Sanford and the founder of the bank’s credit card business, Miles Beacom, have given Dakota State University its largest donation to date.

The gift will benefit a new information technology center, the university announced Monday. A full auditorium was on hand to learn who had donated the last $5 million Dakota State needed to put the final touches on a deal to buy and renovate the Madison Community Hospital’s building when it moves in 2015. The hospital, which separates the two sections of Dakota State’s campus, will be remodeled and transformed into the new Beacom Institute of Technology.

“I believe in DSU’s technology mission,” said Beacom, who graduated from Dakota State in 1981. “I am confident this gift will change the face of Dakota State for decades to come.”

For Sanford, the donation was a chance to recognize the contributions Beacom made to his own success. “I’ve long admired this school because one of its products, Miles Beacom, has become such a large part of my success,” Sanford said. “It’s payback time.”

David Borofsky, president of Dakota State, said the new technology center would allow the university to grow its information technology footprint even further. “We’re expanding our information science programs right now,” Borofsky said.

Josh Pauli, associate professor of cyber operations, said earlier this month that the school wants to build a Secret Compartmentalized Information Facility, and that the Department of Defense has promised to supply it with grant projects if built.

That means Dakota State graduates — perhaps 20 to 40 at a time — could stay closer to home while pursuing careers in cyber security.

“The more projects we can do for the Department of Defense, the less our students will have to go to the East Coast, which is what they do now,” Borofsky said.

The purchase of Madison Community Hospital’s old building will add an additional 60,000 square feet of classroom space to the university. That building acquisition not only would allow Dakota State to consolidate its information technology programs, but it will help free up space for other programs, Borofsky said.

“It means we’re going to be able to grow the way we want to grow,” Borofsky said.

Beacom said he made the donation, in part, because his banking experience has shown him the importance of information technologies and cyber security to business.

“Cyber security has permeated every business, particularly the ones I’m involved in, banking and health care,” Sanford said.

The Secret Compartmentalized Information Facility, which essentially is a room completely isolated from the outside world, will allow students and faculty at Dakota State to work on sensitive government and business cyber security projects, Borofsky said.

Beacom said Dakota State’s strong reputation in cyber security will be enhanced, and he hopes the new facility will help ensure the school stays competitive.

“Data and data security are so important for the future,” Beacom said. “This will continue to bring students into South Dakota and DSU and give them the same tools to succeed in the future that DSU gave me.”

Source: Argus Leader Article from Nov. 26, 2013, by Nick Lowrey: http://www.argusleader.com/article/20131126/NEWS/311260007/DSU-receives-5-million-donation-new-center

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