When describing Dakota State University to others away from Madison, I often describe it as a "rocket ship." The university's leadership, faculty, program designs and strategic focus all contribute to its performance.
So when news broke of a major announcement at Sunday's dedication of the Beacom Institute of Technology, we were curious about another great thing about to happen to a great institution.
The announcement was made: a $30 million gift from Miles Beacom and T. Denny Sanford, $10 million in funding from the South Dakota Future Fund, and $20 million in federal funding — still being finalized — announced by U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds.
The Beacom/Sanford gift is by far the largest gift in Dakota State history. It follows the $5 million gift from Beacom and Sanford to help build the Beacom Institute. The gift and the other funding will be used in the field of cybersecurity, the fastest-growing field of study at DSU.
We didn't learn Sunday about how that money would be spent, but we're confident it will be spent wisely. Sanford has a history of tying his donations to lofty goals, such as finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes or discovering the origins of matter through the Sanford Homestake Laboratory in Lead.
First, we expect bricks and mortar. Today's highest level of research in cybersecurity can't be done in a facility without top-rate security over public internet connections. We expect the facility for that work to be located in Madison.
Second, we expect recruitment of the best researchers. While there will be some opportunities for students to conduct research, the highest-level research will be conducted by the best people in the field.
Third, we could expect scholarships for students to pursue cybersecurity as a career path in line with the Cyber Corp Scholarships already in place.
We offer heartfelt thanks to Miles Beacom, Denny Sanford, Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Sen. Mike Rounds, DSU President Dr. Jose-Marie Griffiths and all others at the university. The current success and vision for the future are what attracted the donors and funding, and they will be the characteristics that will lead to success.