"This is a big accomplishment, not just for the university but for the state of South Dakota," noted Ted Muenster, president of the USD Foundation. "No one in South Dakota has raised this kind of money before in a higher education setting. We've set a whole new standard."
According to Muenster, the largest campaign engineered by the USD Foundation prior to Campaign South Dakota was a $12 million endeavor 25 years ago. That was the standard until President James W. Abbott spoke of a brighter future for The University of South Dakota during his inauguration as president in 1997. Abbott visualized what it would take to make USD the best small, public university in the nation. That vision was the impetus for Campaign South Dakota.
"I said to myself, 'What is it that we have to have to be a great university?'" Abbott explained. "Well, you have to have great faculty. You have to have great students and you have to have great facilities because facilities attract students. We needed to fortify our resources, and that's what we set out to do."
At Saturday's event to celebrate the success of Campaign South Dakota, which concluded on Dec. 31, 2006, University and USD Foundation officials declared that a grand total of $133,950,064 had been raised. Money has already been used to complete projects such as the Al Neuharth Media Center, the Dean Belbas Center and the Vucurevich Children's Center on the USD campus. Additional new facilities benefiting from the campaign include a new medical sciences complex, a new home for USD's Beacom School of Business and a new university center replacing the Coyote Student Center. More importantly, Campaign South Dakota is a building block, Abbott believes, for the future as well as a symbol of the great things that can be accomplished when people work together.
"I thought that it was time for me to give back to USD," added Mickelson Graham, a 1963 graduate of USD. "I came away from USD with a lot of good experiences, great friendships, opportunities, and I hadn't done my part. I felt like it was time for me to help."
Money raised by Campaign South Dakota will provide $20.1 million for academic support; $7.7 million to support faculty; $19.2 million for general support; $39.7 million for facilities; and $47.2 million to support academic scholarships � more than twice the amount that was initially proposed during the campaign kickoff in 2001. Donors responded with their overwhelming support of USD scholarships, and Cutler says their commitment ensures that USD will continue to attract outstanding students from all over the world.
"We, as the foundation, need to be sure the resource is there for scholarships," said Cutler, a 1963 graduate, "so that money is not the issue whether students can come to The University of South Dakota."
As for enhancing or building the facilities that will attract new students, $39.7 million was raised to support several projects that have either been completed or are works in progress, including:
- The Al Neuharth Media Center, which opened in 2003. The former New Armory building is again a centerpiece on campus thanks to this reconstruction;
- The Dean Belbas Center (formerly the Old Armory-Women's Gym), which opened in 2004, is home to student services.
- Construction of the new medical sciences building on the site of the outdated Lee Medical building, serving the Sanford School of Medicine. Phase one was completed during winter 2006 and work continues on the second wing of the new facility.
- Completion of the Wagner Alumni-Foundation Center in 2000, home to USD Foundation and Alumni Association offices.
- DakotaDome improvements, most noticeably a roof repair renovation in 2002 and enhancements to concourse and concessions, innovative signage, and the addition of giant video screen technology.
- Construction of the University Center, a facility dedicated to serving students, alumni and the community of Vermillion; and
- Renovation of Slagle Auditorium, a showcase for the performing arts at the center of the USD campus;
- The Walter A. Buhler business building to succeed Patterson Hall as the home for the Beacom School of Business.
- The Vucurevich Children's Center, which opened in 2000, serves as a safe and stimulating environment for the children of USD students
"We have laid the groundwork for even more success in the future as USD moves onward towards its destiny to become America's finest small public university built on the solid foundation of the liberal arts," stated Neuharth, a 1950 USD graduate.
With the success of Campaign South Dakota, the landscape at The University of South Dakota has been transformed and generations of students will reap the benefits thanks to the extraordinary generosity of so many alumni and friends of The University of South Dakota.