It was standing room only at Friday afternoon's opening ceremony for the University of South Dakota's new Beacom School of Business and Beacom Hall.
The $19.5 million facility, which has been under discussion since at least 1990, will provide approximately 72,000 square feet of classrooms, conference rooms and business incubator space.
Speaking at Friday's ceremony, Miles Beacom, president and CEO of Premier Bankcard and the donor of more than $5 million toward the building's completion, said the purpose of the construction was "not only to build an incredible building on campus — it's to give our students the tools to be successful. Not only tomorrow, but long into the future."
USD President James Abbott thanked Beacom for his support, as well as support from former USD Foundation Chair Ted Muenster, and the students and faculty.
"You don't make things happen without great faculty and great students," Abbott said. "No one wants to be an institution of great choice and great learning and great fun without knowing for sure that that great faculty will be here, and that those great students will be with us every step of the way. That is the reason we are here."
Michael Keller, dean of the Beacom School of Business, said the new facility is second to none in its field.
"In my travels as a dean, I've never seen a better academic building," he said. "It's not a stretch to say this, and it's true. This is as fine an academic building in the country, and that's a proud moment for USD."
Keller said one of the features that sets the building apart is its incubator space, which will allow students and faculty, as well as community entrepreneurs, to come into the building and use space to start their businesses.
"Many campuses have incubators, (but) no campus has their incubator inside their business school," he said. "We plan to do business in this building as well as teach business in this building."
Brad Jankord, president of the Beacom School of Business Council of Presidents, said that when he first heard about the new facility, two words came to mind: "Air conditioning."
"We now have a building that looks and feels as if it was made for the business students at USD," Jankord said. "We have progressed toward the full package deal. That is impressive to our community, our alumni and current prospective students, and all those that visit the USD campus.
"Beacom Hall will now act as a major recruitment tool, offering students Division I academic status," he said.
Carole Pagones of the South Dakota Board of Regents added, "This building represents more than just a location for the school of business. It represents a foundation for students who will someday impact the economy of our great state."
Beacom said cooperation between different groups and individuals is what gets any project accomplished.
"Everything I've been able to accomplish has been because of my family to my career family," he said. "I look at accomplishments, and there's nothing that I could have accomplished without them. And you look at what's happened on-campus at USD, and you look at the success of the last 10 years, it's not one individual. It's a lot of people working together for the success of this university, and it's been overwhelming."
Abbott added, "Our university is full of great traditions and great people. We have great colleges in this state. We have great students in this state. It's a great state. And today, nothing is better than this wonderful building for our great students."