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Monday, January 22, 2007

Argus Leader editor calls for closing of NSU

Argus Leader Voices editor Patrick Lalley today called for the closing of Northern State University.

He says from the time he was an undergraduate, he has thought the state has too many state-run higher education campuses. He does not say why he thinks so, nor does he make any attempt to make a case. He simply says:

We have too many schools in places where there aren’t many people – read Aberdeen – and we need to close one at least.

There is no question that Northern has had some difficulties with enrollments and programs in recent years. However, the suggestions that it be closed have been floating around for more than a decade in my hearing.

This call comes in the context of the campus being established in Sioux Falls. While the argument for that campus was to augment the system and provide access to those living in the higher population areas, it was also denied that any other campus would be cannibalized in order to build it.

From the standpoint of some of us who taught at Northern in recent decades, we note that its leadership has not been given a clear mandate to build the university and we note the cutbacks in programs and offerings. While they have been made as cost-accounting measures, we also note that the cutbacks have preceded the problems with enrollments. Programs that NSU once led the system with have been diverted by various means to other campuses. And we note that the current president is on the finalists' list for a college presidency in the east.

We also note that Lalley blogs for his newspaper. And as is true of many bloggers, he gives us raw opinion without supporting information or an account of his reasoning.

I am not one who thinks higher education institutions that have outlived their usefulness should continue. One either makes them useful again, or finds a different mission or function.

But there is no mention of the history of NSU, its current role in the system, and why it should be singled out for closing.

This may be another instance of an effort to be au courant with the "new media," and a newspaper editor becomes as inanely mindless as some of our esteemed bloggers.

With the Argus Leader attaining the quality of the American News in this instance, perhaps there is some private equity investors who would like to give Gannett an offer. This is really dummying matters down.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States