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Avera gift to SDSU to expand health care education, workforce


A rendering of the exterior of the SDSU Metro Center on Minnesota Avenue in Sioux Falls.
A rendering of the exterior of the SDSU Metro Center on Minnesota Avenue in Sioux Falls.

SDSU Metro Center grows university’s presence in Sioux Falls

In an effort to support health sciences and future workforce building, Avera has made a generous gift to the South Dakota State University Foundation of its property at 33rd Street and Minnesota Avenue, expanding SDSU’s presence in Sioux Falls and providing a permanent home for its Sioux Falls-based programs in nursing and pharmacy at the SDSU Metro Center. 

A rendering of the interior lobby of the SDSU Metro Center in Sioux Falls.
A rendering of the interior lobby of the SDSU Metro Center in Sioux Falls.

The 44,359-square-foot building has served as Avera’s Sioux Falls Home Medical Equipment location. The SDSU College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions has leased a portion of the building since last fall. Renovation on the future SDSU Metro Center, containing the Avera health education center for these students, will begin this summer and continue through 2025. 

SDSU awarded 491 degrees in the health professions in 2023, more than any other university in the South Dakota Board of Regents’ system, according to the regents’ 2024 Factbook. 

“We could not be more appreciative of the relationship we have with Avera and the vision their leadership has demonstrated with this transformational gift,” SDSU President Barry Dunn said. “The facility will provide a Sioux Falls home for our pharmacy and nursing programs, continuing to expand the connection SDSU has to the state’s largest community and the region. The ability to educate and train students in a community supported so well by the health care industries will not only advance our academic programs but continue to play a pivotal role in meeting the workforce demands of our state and region.” 

“We are proud to work with South Dakota State University on this space for its health science majors. Expanding and scaling our workforce is a major priority for Avera, and this collaboration will help expand capacity for SDSU,” said David Flicek, chief operating officer for Avera. “We appreciate our relationship with our education partners. This gift helps to support Avera, Sioux Falls and the entire state of South Dakota.” 

“This gift ensures SDSU’s ability to expand its leading role in meeting health care workforce needs of the state and Sioux Falls metro area,” SDSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dennis Hedge said. “The support Avera has shown through this generous gift allows us to continue to grow important academic areas and directly supports our land-grant mission of providing access to the benefits of higher education to support the citizens and communities of South Dakota. We will train and educate students who will not only serve the communities in and around Sioux Falls, but those throughout South Dakota and beyond.” 

“We’re thrilled to help with this expansion of access to SDSU’s nursing and pharmacy training programs. The demand in both areas is increasing, and both play an important role in the delivery of high-quality health care,” said Dr. Ronald Place. M.D., regional president and CEO of Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center. “Avera is looking forward to working closely with SDSU students and educators on optimizing clinical training and job placement for the students who enroll in these programs.” 

University officials say more than 400 students will be educated and trained in the new facility annually. That includes more than 150 students from the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions and 240 students within the College of Nursing. Of those, 160 will be pursuing undergraduate degrees; another 80 are in the graduate program. 

The new SDSU Metro Center will include classrooms, skills labs for nursing, research space for pharmacy, and simulation labs and student study areas serving all majors. 

“Avera’s gift brings pharmacy, nursing, respiratory therapy, medical lab science and public health students together under one roof,” said Dan Hansen, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions. “This gives our students the opportunity to learn alongside their future colleagues and collaborators, better preparing them to enter the workforce and care for patients.” 

“This gift provides the space, technology and infrastructure to meet the practice-ready nursing workforce needs of Sioux Falls and the region,” said Mary Anne Krogh, dean of the College of Nursing. “We are grateful for their investment and this partnership.” 

This is a continuation of a long working relationship between Avera Health and SDSU. Avera provided the lead gift for the Avera Health and Science Center that opened on the SDSU campus in 2010. That facility includes 97,000 square feet of teaching, laboratory and office space, and 48,600 square feet of research laboratory space. 

Avera also supports scholarships and sponsorships for students, including support of nursing, medical lab science and other health care fields, as well as the Wokini Initiative, which provides opportunities for American Indian students.

A rendering of the clinical lab space of the SDSU Metro Center in Sioux Falls.
A rendering of the clinical lab space of the SDSU Metro Center in Sioux Falls.



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