Construction is complete on South Dakota State University’s American Indian Student Center.
The center, which has more than 12,000 square feet, is located on the north end of the Rotunda Green in the area between Abbott Hall and Harding Hall.
“The new and improved AISC is great for all Indigenous youth because it makes students feel a part of a community, sort of like a home away from home. It helps us ease into the transition of college life and will be a place to make new lifelong friendships with others. That is a very important factor because most of us are not away from our communities often,” said Lars King, a sophomore from Rosebud. He is also a Wokini Scholar.
The $4.5 million center was built with $4 million coming from private donor funds and $500,000 from school and public lands cash.
“The vision for this center would not have been possible without the involvement and generous support of our donors,” said SDSU President Barry Dunn. “The new center is a fulfillment of the pledge made when we announced the Wokini Initiative. It will create opportunities and support for thousands of American Indian students to receive the benefits of higher education, while connecting the rest of our campus to the culture and values of the indigenous people of our state and region. Many of our students will experience the center through classes taught in the building and other events designed to explore and learn. The work of the SDSU Foundation and our donors has transformed our university and created a strong pathway for our American Indian students to be successful.”
The facility provides office space, meeting rooms, multipurpose rooms, technology resources, student support space and academic support space. Its primary function would be dedicated to student support programming and services.
“Native American students need a space to feel welcomed, feel accepted and feel loved and to this space allows that and it’s also the place to go for academic and retention advising, to enjoy cultural programming and connect with other Native students,” said Erica Moore, director of the American Indian Student Center. “This center will be an important place on campus that will encompass all of their needs. When you go into our center, it is a feeling of being home. You can hear the kids laughing and having fun with one another or my staff. The feeling of joy is deeply felt. Now that we have a new center at the heart of campus, with a larger space, I want to be able to have more students and campus allies filling up those spaces.”
In addition, GenPro Energy mounted solar panels that equal approximately 7.4 kilowatts of energy. These panels are found on the south portion of the building and were donated by SDSU’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
TSP was the firm for architectural and engineering services.
About the Wokini Initiative
The Wokini Initiative will offer programming and support to enrolled members of the nine tribal nations in South Dakota interested in gaining access to educational and advancement opportunities at South Dakota State University. The initiative will also enhance research and outreach collaborations and programs with tribes, tribal colleges and other tribal organizations in the state. The initiative will align student opportunities to pursue degrees that will impact communities and their tribes while recognizing the importance of family and native culture.
Wokini-supported students will be given the resources and access to academic, personal, health and financial wellness knowledge needed to succeed at South Dakota State University and in life after graduation.