- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) - Black Hills State University is laying off 15 employees as it works to address a $1.5 million budget deficit.

Some of the staff members were cut immediately and others will be let go in June, the start of the new fiscal year, spokeswoman Corrine Hansen told the Black Hills Pioneer (https://bit.ly/1NfS46i ).

University officials say the revenue shortfall is due to students taking fewer credit hours, which they attribute to more part-time students and fewer high school graduates in South Dakota.

“There’s been a decline over the last couple years, and that’s expected to continue for at least two more years, in some places up to five years,” Hansen said. “We need to increase our market share of the students out there.”

Black Hills State eliminated one position during the last fiscal year and told staff last December that further cuts would have to be made, according to Hansen.

The school last month announced it was suspending two academic programs that have low enrollment in another cost-cutting move. The school also is postponing some equipment upgrades, and putting more emphasis on marketing and student recruitment.

“We know that recruiting 30 more students from the Northern Hills and Rapid City will make a huge difference in jobs, campus growth, and economic development,” University President Tom Jackson Jr. said.

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Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, https://www.bhpioneer.com

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