Western Dakota Tech opens Whitewood Center

Western Dakota Tech President Dr. Ann Bolman addresses the audience gathered to celebrate the ribbon cutting of the college’s debut into satellite campuses, beginning with the Whitewood Educational Center. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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WHITEWOOD — Western Dakota Tech (WDT) President Dr. Ann Bolman described Wednesday’s ribbon cutting for the college’s first satellite campus, located in Whitewood, as “a dream come true in carrying out our mission.”

Bolman’s remarks were prefaced by Whitewood Economic Development Organization (WEDO Executive Director Robert Hill and Director of Operations Chris Chiller.

“We are a small, but aggressive economic development organization,” Hill said. “Our mission is to bring new business growth through complementary industry, affordable workforce housing, and adult education and we have found a partner in Western Dakota Tech that we can build an economic ecosystem around this flagship institution for years to come … we’re very excited to start this partnership.”

Chiller said the occasion was very momentous for Whitewood.

“It never occurred to me that we would have a college in Whitewood, and here we are, in the presence of Western Dakota Technical College,” Chiller said. “Our members, in supporting us, allowed us to do the work necessary to put the package together to make this work. Lawrence County is loaning us the money to do this entire project out of their economic development fund. They’re also extremely excited to have the presence of Western Dakota Technical College here in Lawrence County … we’re excited about what’s coming and we’re excited about what we just finished.”

Bolman said the educational facility is very much a vision of Western Dakota Technical College and a dream come true for the vision of the college.

“We have known for many years that Western Dakota Technical College is the only technical college in Western South Dakota, and we know that there are a lot of miles and sometimes bad weather in-between the campus in Rapid City and our students, so we have found ways to overcome barriers, and we have had finding an off-site facility or facilities on our list of things that we would like to do for five years, since I’ve been at Western Dakota Tech,” Bolman said. “This is an amazing partnership and opportunity for students in the Whitewood area, for employers in this area, and for Western Dakota Tech to carry out its mission. It’s amazing what can happen when partnerships come together.”

Renovations on the building that will house Whitewood Educational Center are slated to begin Aug. 1. The facility will also house WEDO’s official office.

Following building remodeling, WDT plans to host admissions and financial aid events in the location this fall. The goal is to offer a licensed practical nursing program spring 2021 semester, pending approval by the Higher Learning Commission.

The nursing program will potentially include 16 students and up to three instructors.

It is hoped the satellite campus will grow to feature more programs and general education classes in the future.

WDT thanked WEDO, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the city of Whitewood, and the Lawrence County Commission, which have partnered with the college to provide technical education for good-paying, in-demand careers for Northern Hills residents, close to home.

“We really do see this as part of our necessary strategies for how to get technical programming out to people who need to figure out ways to get a career started or to move forward,” Bolman said.

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