USD celebrates grand opening of Academic Commons

It was standing room only at the grand opening/ribbon-cutting ceremony of the University of South Dakotas new Academic Commons, located on the first floor of the I.D. Weeks Library building.

USD President James Abbott remarks about the importance of the new Academic Commons in the I.D. Weeks Library Tuesday while strolling through the crowd of well-wishers who gathered for the commons grand opening ceremony. (Photo by David Lias)

The Academic Commons is a centralized learning center for the campus that Dean of Libraries Anne Cooper Moore, Ph.D., termed a one-stop shopping environment for academic support.

During the ceremony, USD President James W. Abbott declared his enthusiasm for the work thats taken place on the commons over the past year.

Ive been absolutely amazed at the changes in this building, and how nice it is, he said. I think back to when I was at the University of South Dakota. We didnt have stuff like this. We didnt have anything like this.

Provost Chuck Staben agreed, saying, Were hoping that it helps us achieve our goals of bringing more students to campus and helping those students who come to our campus.

In addition to the librarys current instruction and circulation services, the west side of the Academic Commons will include the Writing Center, the Presentation Center and Lab Consultant.

Services on the east half of the first floor include the Academic and Career Planning Center, Supplemental Instruction and First Year Experience Services.

The Academic Commons also will be home to the Center for Academic Engagement, Math Emporium and the Information Technology Services Help Desk.

Ive been working with a group of all the different service providers to bring this facility together, to try to bring as many academic support services as we could into a single location so that students can come in and do whatever they need to do, Moore said. The intention is that students can come in and not have to go outside of the Muenster University Center/Academic Commons complex in order to get anything they need.

Tim Carr, outgoing president of the Student Government Association, said he was impressed by the attention to detail on display in the commons.

It makes student life more convenient, but I think it says a lot about the people that were involved with the planning of this building, he said. They truly had students in mind when they were designing and constructing this facility. As a student, that really means a lot.

Moore added, Its really about students being comfortable that this is a student space. Its about students and what they do together, creating new ideas, innovations, through being able to work together with technology and support.

Carr said the Academic Commons is a testament to the continuing progress being made at the university.

From the time that I came here in 2007, obviously the campus has seen a remarkable change of scenery from the student center, the wellness center, the school of business and now the academic commons, he said. We never stop making progress, we never stop working toward our vision becoming the best small public flagship university in the nation built upon a liberal arts foundation.

Abbott expressed his gratitude to everyone involved in the planning and design of the Academic Commons, and to Moore in particular.

I realize Academic Affairs and everybody else was involved with this, but I dont think everyone knows how special a dean of libraries who believes that libraries ought to be inclusive actually is, and who believes that these kinds of things should happen on an everyday basis not just being quiet in various rooms, he said.

Staben echoed Abbotts view.

Were fortunate to have people at the university like Anne who have the vision to understand that the needs of students, the needs of the university change, and that we can use the resources that we have to serve our students better and serve our faculty better, and make this a place that really works for those students and those faculty (members), Staben said.

Abbott joked that with a facility such as this, students have no option but to succeed at the university.

If you cant do well here, its not our fault, he said.

For more information about the Academic Commons, visit

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