After 21 years of leadership and service, President Abbott will be remembered for transforming USD into the thriving and growing community it is today. This spring, alumni and friends, and the campus community, stepped up in a big way to express their gratitude and contribute to President Abbott’s legacy through the James W. and Colette Abbott Scholarship Fund.
President Abbott traveled around the country in the closing months of his presidency, appearing at several USD Alumni Association “On the Move” events. Alumni and friends that attended, along with hundreds of others, responded to the request from USD Alumni Association Board Chair Torrey Sundall to honor President Abbott’s legacy by contributing to the scholarship fund. Nearly $100,000 has been raised from more than 260 gifts by alumni and friends.
The campus community also contributed to the James W. and Colette Abbott Scholarship Fund during the first annual Giving Week at USD from April 16-20, sponsored by the Student Alumni Association. With a $5 donation, the donor received an Abbott bitmoji button to wear and show their support around campus. The Student Alumni Association set an initial goal of $2,500, which to their amazement was quickly met during day three of Giving Week. The goal was then increased to $5,000, which was also met and exceeded on the final day of the week. In total, an additional $5,760 was raised for the scholarship fund by over 500 students, faculty and staff.
Giving Week culminated in the second annual Founders Day celebration April 20 and 21, commemorating the founding of USD in 1862. Founders Day activities included Donuts and Donations in the MUC Pit Lounge where students could grab a doughnut and donate to the scholarship fund for Giving Week; food trucks were open on the MUC front lawn; and a student celebration of President Abbott was hosted by the Student Alumni Association. Former Student Government Association president Teagan McNary and vice president Conrad Adam spoke on behalf of the students to honor President Abbott, and cupcakes were served following the program. The festivities on Friday concluded with tailgating before the Spring Football Game at the DakotaDome.
Founders Day Weekend wrapped up on Saturday, April 21 with campus tours, Greek house tours, and the main event, Legacy: A Red-Tie Celebration of Service and Leadership to honor President Abbott’s 21 years at USD. Around 650 people traveled to Sanford Coyote Sports Center for an evening filled with food, photo booths, and reminiscing. Attendees enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres around the concourse of the basketball court before taking seats in the stadium for a short program. The emcee for the program was Russell Olson, with Harvey Jewett and Teagan McNary taking the stage to thank President Abbott and remark on the impact of his accomplishments at USD. The evening ended with the dedication of the basketball court in the SCSC, named the James W. and Colette Abbott court to honor the Abbotts and their love for Coyote sports.