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.