November 25, 2013
DSU receives $5 million to create cyber secure facility
By JANE UTECHT, Staff Reporter, courtesy of Madison Daily Leader
Dakota State University announced Monday (today) that T. Denny Sanford and DSU alumnus Miles Beacom have pledged to donate $5 million to the Madison school.
The gift will help renovate the current Madison Community Hospital into what will become the Beacom Institute for Technology building.
DSU President David Borofsky said that when the hospital made plans to build a new facility south of town, "It made sense to purchase and renovate the current facility" for the university. "Today, that vision becomes a reality," he said.
The new Beacom Institute will add 60,000 square feet of computer-related programs and services, including a Secure Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). This will offer "a secure facility" for students to work on projects for agencies within the U.S. Department of Defense.
T. Denny Sanford wears a Dakota State University cap Monday during a press conference in which the school announced a donation from Sanford and Miles Beacom. DSU President David Borofsky (right) said the $5 million pledge will be used to renovate.
The DSU SCIF will be one of only 20 such facilities at universities around the country. It's virtually a bunker intended for top-security cyber work.
A site for the facility has not been finalized, but Dr. Josh Pauli, associate professor of cyber operations at DSU, likes the basement of the former Madison Community Hospital that the university is buying for $1.6 million.
Sanford said this type of facility is "critical," and "is so needed now because of the new things occurring in the computer world and security world. DSU can fill that role."
An additional potential benefit will be to "keep good-paying jobs here in South Dakota," Sanford said.
Pauli noted that some of those projects may lead into full-time employment at the Beacom Institute. That means at least some DSU graduates once destined for careers on the East Coast might be able to stay closer to home.
Only students, faculty and eventually full-time employees who have gone through high-level security clearance with the Defense Department would gain access to do the top-secret work, Pauli said.
Beacom, now president and CEO of Premier Bankcard, explained why he wanted to make the donation: "If it wasn't for DSU, I wouldn't be here today." He said the school "gave me the tools and the knowledge to do the right things" to be successful.
Shantel Krebs, a candidate for secretary of state in South Dakota, said that DSU "is the best-kept secret in South Dakota." Today's announcement will help people in the state realize that DSU is "a player" with technology degrees. Krebs, a DSU alumna, said it was a proud moment for the school.
Madison Mayor Roy Lindsay said this project will "just keep moving Madison forward," not only in the area also nationally.
Several DSU Cyber Operations majors were in the audience at the Tunheim Classroom Building. Shawn Zwack said the announcement was "exciting." Chad Mitzel felt the addition would be "great for the campus."
Although these students are seniors who will have graduated by the time the building is ready in 2016, they saw the potential to return to work in the SCIF.