The Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) in Lead and Black Hills State University (BHSU) in Spearfish are partnering in a $4.5 million project to convert the Jonas Science building on the BHSU campus into a facility to complement Sanford Lab's education efforts in Lead.
The Sanford Lab is owned and operated by the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA), which is donating $2.5 million to the project. That money will come from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford's gift of $70 million, which the SDSTA is using to convert the former Homestake gold mine into a world leading underground research laboratory.
Sanford directed that part of his donation be used for education. "Denny Sanford is committed to inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers," said SDSTA Board Chairman Casey Peterson. "Black Hills State University already plays a key role in our education programs, and this project will strengthen that partnership."
Peterson also emphasized that education and outreach programs in Lead would continue, including a proposal to partner with the Lead Chamber of Commerce for a joint visitor center on Main Street.
BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp said the university would match the Sanford donation with $2 million from the Higher Education Facility Fund. "We are very appreciative of the generous gift by Mr. Sanford," Schallenkamp said. "Having this world-class science laboratory in our backyard has created new research opportunities for our faculty and students across a variety of disciplines."
The new facility will be a branch of the Sanford Science Education Center, which also will have facilities at the Sanford Lab in Lead. Faculty at the science education center at BHSU will conduct research on teaching and learning, support the training of current and future science teachers, develop and test educational materials and develop courses featuring underground research at the Sanford Lab. The campus center also will be linked to the underground lab by videoconferencing units, and it will include displays for visitors to the campus. "It's another way we are creating innovative educational possibilities for our students and transforming the lives of both the students who attend BHSU, and the youth they will go on to teach," Schallenkamp said.