"To you who have stood on the bluff and gazed out across the valley of the tortuous Missouri the message of these pages is directed.   It was here that you dreamed your dreams, the glamorous dreams of your college days.  Incoherent they were, perhaps, and known to you alone, yet they helped to establish your ideals and to define your goal of life…

Well has that University lived up to the trust of its founders.  Through eventful...years of progress it has trained men and women in the leadership of service.  Political storms have buffeted it, financial support has been inadequate, yet this State University stands today as it has stood through the years - a steadfast beacon in an incompletely charted sea of life…

It is not enough that we merely carry on that which others have given us.  We must build new and better for each new day…"

A Laboratory of Life for South Dakota

Pride, Persistence and Progress by Ann Grauvogl
The 150-Year History of The University of South Dakota

Place your order now for this limited edition keepsake! This 200-plus page coffee table style book is filled with interesting historical facts, fun stories, photos and memories, throughout the 150-year history of The University of South Dakota.  This pictorial history will be an attractive addition to your collection and makes a great gift for alumni of all ages - including new graduates.  Call 800-655-2586 to inquire.

Arbor Day Digging Race, 1889
Arbor Day Digging Race, 1889


A Timeline of USD's History

1861: Dakota Territory is established. Yankton is named the temporary capital.

1862: First legislature of the Dakota Territory authorizes establishment of University at Vermillion. The authorizing legislation is signed by Governor Jayne on April 21.

1863: First South Dakota Board of Regents named.

1872: Railroad first reaches Vermillion.

1877: City of Vermillion incorporated.

1878: The Great Dakota Boom begins, leading to population growth.

1881: Federal government grants land to Dakota and Montana territories for university construction.

1882: Ephraim Epstein becomes USD's first president.

1882: First USD classes held at Clay County Courthouse.

1883: South Dakota Gov. Ordway signs bill accepting all USD real property, making it an official state University.

1883: USD's first academic unit, the College of Arts and Sciences, established.

1883: John Simonds becomes USD’s second president.

June 5, 1883: Closing exercises mark end of USD’s first school year.

1885: Construction of Old Main (then known as University Hall) completed.

1885: John Herrick becomes USD’s third president.

1885: West Hall construction is completed, making it USD’s second building and first dormitory.

1887: Edward Olson becomes USD’s fourth president.

1887: Students publish first issue of Volante.

1888: USD's first graduates are Clarence Antisdel, Charles Brinstad and Herbert Houston.

1888:  East Hall is completed, bringing USD’s total number of buildings to three.

1889: USD President Olson dies in a fall in Minneapolis; Howard Grose takes the helm of USD in 1890.

June 12, 1889: USD Alumni Association is created.

1889: Intercollegiate football begins with a tie game against South Dakota Agricultural College.

Nov. 2, 1889: South Dakota enters the Union as a state.

1891: Joseph Mauck becomes USD’s sixth president.

1893: Old Main is destroyed by fire.

1899: Reconstructed Old Main opens to students.

1899: Garrett Droppers becomes USD’s president and serves until 1906.

1901: School of Law begins offering classes.

1905: USD’s first armory opened; now known as The Belbas Center.

1906: USD’s new president, Franklin Gault, takes the reins of USD.

1907: School of Medicine begins offering classes.

1908: Original School of Law (now Arts & Sciences) building opens to students.

1914: Robert Slagle, namesake of the USD building, becomes president of the University.

1914: First "Dakota Day" celebration takes place.

1915: University men take part in military training to support country’s preparation for World War I.

1916: Division of Continuing Education established.

1919: USD Chapel, now Farber Hall, fills as servicemen lost in World War I are remembered.

1922: Poem by Mabel Richardson chosen for USD's Alma Mater song.

1922: USD joins newly established North Central Athletics Conference as a charter member.

1924: Dakotans and Strollers organizations established.

1924: Carl Gunderson ’90 elected South Dakota’s 11th governor; he is the first South Dakota governor to have attended USD. Four generations of his family follow him to the University over the next 70 years.

1924: More than 7,000 fans attend Dakota Day football game, largest crowd in USD history.

1925: Auditorium and administration building (later named Slagle Hall) completed.

1925: USD Baseball team claims University championship.

1926: Inman Field, USD’s first football stadium, completed and ready for play.

1927: Graduate School, School of Education and School of Business Administration established.

1928: USD Football claims its first conference championship.

1929: Herman James becomes president of USD.

1929: USD’s “new” Armory opens, includes swimming pool and is site of many basketball triumphs.

1930: USD men’s basketball crowned North Central Conference champions.

1931: College of Fine Arts begins offering classes.

1931: Construction begins on USD's first student union, the South Dakota Union building.

1933: Enrollment falls to record low due to Great Depression, drought, and grasshopper infestations.

1935: South Dakota’s first electrical cooperative is formed near Vermillion in Burbank.

1935: I.D. Weeks becomes president, a position he would hold at USD for more than 30 years.

1936: Leslie Jensen, ’21, is elected South Dakota’s 15th governor.

1936: New advisement program begins to help freshmen adjust to college life.

1939: E.O. Lawrence ’22 awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in developing the cyclotron, a high-speed particle accelerator.

1940: "Inman House" donated for use by USD presidents and their families.

1941: Alvin Zephier becomes USD's first Native American graduate.

1942: Programs accelerated and commencement moved forward to accomodate and encourage military service.

1943: Two USD alumni receive Congressional Medals of Honor: U.S. Army Capt. Arlo Olson ’40, for bravery in combat in Italy, where he was fatally wounded, and U.S.M.C. Captain Joe Foss ‘40 for his air-combat victories in the Pacific Theater of War.

1943: All academic work placed on quarterly schedule to coordinate regular classes with Army Specialized Training Program.

1946: Deluge of post-war students spurs expanions of several programs.

1946: After three years away because of World War II, USD Football returns to campus and plays a short, four-game season. First post-Pearl Harbor Dakota Day is celebrated.

1947: USD School of Law graduate George T. Mickelson ’27 elected South Dakota’s 18th governor.

1949: Julian Hall opens.

1950: USD’s humor magazine “Hmm” replaces “The Wet Hen.”

1951: McKusick Law Library (now McKusick Technology Center) constructed.

1951: USD Football hoists the NCC championship trophy.      

1951: Sigurd Anderson, ’31, elected governor of South Dakota.

1951: School of Business earns AACSB accreditation for the first time.

1950s: Jimmie and Cliff Daniels (both 1958 graduates) become first black student-athletes to start on USD’s basketball team. Brooklyn, N.Y. natives, the Daniels serve as USD’s starting guards for three seasons.

1952: Construction begins on Noteboom Hall.

1954: Charlotte Noteboom Hall accepts first tenants.

1955: Alumnus Joe Foss ‘40, at age 39, is elected governor of South Dakota.

1957: School of Business building (later named Patterson Hall) completed.

1958: Expansion of graduate programs, including new offerings in geology, physical education, humanities, business administration, business teacher education and natural sciences.

1963: Ground broken for Coyote Student Center.

1965: USD enrolls first fourth-generation student, Richard Gillis.

1966: E.Q. Moulton becomes USD’s president.

1967: Construction of I.D. Weeks Library completed.

1968: First graduates of USD’s dental hygiene program earn their diplomas.

1968: Richard Bowen takes over as president of USD.

1969: East Hall converted for use as academic space.

1970: USD students take roles in University Senate for the first time.

1973: Shrine to Music Museum, now known as the National Music Museum, opens in original campus library facility.

1976: W.O. "Doc" Farber steps down as chair of the Department of Political Science after 38 years of leadership; he would continue to mentor students until his death in 2007.

1976: U.S. Air Force Major George “Bud” Day ‘49 awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his resistance and bravery as a POW in Vietnam. He was captured in 1967 and released in 1973.

1977: USD President Charles Lein takes his post at the University.

1977: Final season for football at Inman Field and basketball in USD’s New Armory.

1978: Harvey Wollman is elected as South Dakota’s 26th governor. His brother, alumnus Roger Wollman ‘62 Chief Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court, swore Harvey in.

1978: William Janklow ’64, ’66 elected 27th governor of South Dakota and serves for eight years. He is reelected in 1995 and serves for another eight years.

1978: USD Football wins outright NCC championship for first time since 1951.

1978: Dr. Warren “Doc” M. Lee, founder of the Black Hills Playhouse, dies at age

1979: Construction of the DakotaDome, the region's only domed arena, completed.  Coyotes win 23-17 over University of Nebraska-Omaha in first D-Days game indoors.

1981: New School of Law building constructed.

1982: USD names Joseph McFadden University president.

1982: Strollers perform 60th annual show in Slagle Hall.

1982: Al Neuharth ’51 founds the newspaper, The USA Today.

1983: Tom Brokaw ’64 begins a 22-year career as anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News.

1983: USD celebrates a centennial, observing 100 years since the beginning of classes in 1882.

1982-85: USD women's basketball wins North Central Conference Championship three consecutive years under Coach Chad Lavin; they advance to three straight NCAA Regional Tournaments as well.

1985: Beede Hall becomes first residence hall with co-ed living in South Dakota.

1985: Construction begins on new W.H. Over Museum.

1986: George S. Mickelson ’63, ’65 elected governor of South Dakota; he was reelected in 1990.

1986: USD football team advances to first-ever national championship game but fall to North Dakota State University.

1989: Betty Turner Asher becomes first woman to serve as USD president.

1989: The Freedom Forum, founded by Al Neuharth ‘51 gives its first Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism to Walter Cronkite.

1993: USD’s first fifth-generation student, Annie Gillis, begins classes at USD.

1997: James W. Abbott becomes first USD alumnus to serve as president of USD.

1997: Old Main undergoes major renovation and reopens for academic use after a 24-year hiatus.

2001: Permanent roof installed on DakotaDome, replacing original pressurized roof.

2003: Renovations completed on the E.O. Lawrence Telecommunications Center and building renamed the Al Neuharth Media Center.

2004: Derek Miles ’96, ’98, represents the U.S. in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. He goes on to pole-vault for the U.S. in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, where he finishes fourth.

2004: Dean Belbas Center (originally the Armory Building) restored and reopened to house admissions, financial aid and registrar's office.

2006: USD formally announces intention to move athletic programs to NCAA Division I.

2007: School of Medicine celebrates its centennial in newly constructed Lee Medical Building.

2007: Campaign South Dakota, a fundraising effort launched in June 2001, concludes after raising more than $133 million.

2009: Muenster University Center opens to students.

2009: USD's new business school, Beacom Hall, opens to students.

2010: With 10,151 students, USD exceeds 10,000 mark for first time.

2010: Coyote Village, a suite-style student housing unit, opens for first residents.

2010:  Dennis Daugaard ’75 is elected South Dakota’s 32nd governor.

2010: In an improbable upset, USD Football defeats the University of Minnesota on the road, 41-38.

2011: USD Fitness Center opens.

2011: New USD logo adopted for all University teams and materials.

2011: Students, faculty and staff enlisted to help Clay, Union and Yankton County citizens sandbag and relocate during Missouri River flooding. National Guard units housed on campus during the summer.

2012: Aalfs Auditorium and Skinner pipe organ renovated in Slagle Hall.

2012: USD students and administration choose official Coyote statue; sculptor is a USD alumnus.

2012: USD celebrates 150th anniversary of its founding; April 21 declared the date of Charlie Coyote’s birthday.


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The USD Alumni Association                                                       
414 E. Clark St.
Vermillion, SD 57069
605-677-6734 or toll-free 800-655-2586