USD Foundation receives $5 million gift to help build new business school

USD Foundation receives $5 million gift to help build new business school
It didn't come packaged in bright holiday paper and ribbon.

But an anonymous gift of $5 million is warming the hearts of University of South Dakota officials just days before Christmas.

The donor has offered the $5 million to be used toward the construction of a new School of Business at The University of South Dakota. The gift, received by the USD Foundation, is offered as a challenge to others to support a new building to house the School of Business's educational programs.�

"The funds will be used for the construction of the building," said Ted Muenster of the USD Foundation. "The gift was made in the spirit of a challenge to other people who are interested in the business school � the alumni and business community in South Dakota to equal that amount with new contributions."

Muenster said it is estimated that the new School of Business building will have a total cost of approximately $16 million. Most of that amount will have to be raised before construction can begin.

While the construction start date is not certain at this point, groundbreaking is expected in late 2007 or early 2008, when the remainder of the financing is arranged. The building, designed to be a signature building at the university, will meet the needs of several generations of students.

Muenster said people haven't lost the desire to give substantial monetary gifts for such things as university building projects, despite a war in Iraq, skyrocketing energy prices and other economic uncertainties.

"There are people around with considerable wealth that are generous in spirit," Muenster said. "We have to culitivate a relationship with those folks and make a strong case to them why their money could be well invested here on this campus."

The donor understands the importance of a nationally acclaimed business school to the future of South Dakota, he said. USD's business school is accredited in the same prominent category as Stanford, Harvard, Northwestern and other major universities across the nation. "This gift will allow us to finish the campaign soon and build the state-of-the-art building our students, faculty and alumni deserve," said Mike Keller, dean of the School of Business. "It will offer us a first-rate business school unmatched in the region, helping us develop South Dakota's economy for the 21st century. That economy will be dependent on business innovation and entrepreneurial energy that the new school will support, encourage and incubate."

The final round of funding for the business school project will come from further private donations to the USD Foundation and from the Board of Regents through the South Dakota Higher Education Facilities Fund (HEFF). HEFF funds are a percentage of student tuition dollars directed toward capital improvement projects at state universities.

"This is a major step forward in the progress of Campaign South Dakota and everyone connected to the school is grateful for the donor's generous gift," said Richard Cutler, co-chair of the campaign. The gift advances the USD Foundation effort even further beyond its $60 million Campaign South Dakota goal, to almost $97 million, with a year remaining in the fund drive.

The business school fund raising goal is expected to be achieved by the end of 2006.

"This extraordinary anonymous gift and the contributions of so many other great supporters will assist the university to move to a new level in business education in South Dakota," said President James W. Abbott. "The new business school building fits perfectly with the university's strategic plan and our goal of having top notch facilities to support the best educational opportunities in the region."

According to Dean Keller, the new building will create an opportunity for the School of Business to recruit more and better students. "Great business students are more likely to attend the university with new, impressive, forward looking facilities.

"The new USD business school building will be as good as any small university B-School building in America. More high quality students in the business school mean more excellent graduates to drive business growth in the state," Keller said.

USD's current School of Business building suffers from both space and design problems.

"The building was designed and built 50 years ago for a much smaller business school than we have now," Muenster said, "and there's also a question of technology.

"The building was not constructed with modern technology in mind, or the educational environment that we need today," he said. "The old Patterson Hall was built when business school education was done in a lecture format totally. Now, it's presented by having students work on problem-solving in small groups. And the new building will have a lot of capacity for technology that wasn't even contemplated 50 years ago."

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