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Message from the President - May 1, 2020

President Barry Dunn

2020 Fall Semester

SDSU Community –

The past several weeks have shown how adaptable and responsive South Dakota State University has been during this pandemic to meet its mission and serve our students and citizens of the state.

Today, after careful deliberation, the South Dakota Board of Regents and the presidents of the six regental institutions announced that we are all committed to resuming on-campus operations for the fall 2020 semester to provide opportunities for teaching, learning and co-curricular activities. Planning for a safe return will include a focus on academics, student life, research, employees, athletics and the Brookings community.

We are aware opening our campuses for the fall semester will be complex, but we are confident we will be prepared. Our COVID-19 Response Team will continue its diligent work. In addition, I have launched the “JacksRBack” planning and execution team, and it has started to develop plans to be implemented in the near future.

Over the next three months we will utilize guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the South Dakota Department of Health. We will also rely on knowledge within our university community and other available resources to develop plans to protect our community. Our goal will be to continue to offer a premier educational experience.

We are committed to student success, academic progress and degree completion. Work has begun to evaluate classroom and laboratory experiences to provide excellent learning in a safe environment and allow for in-person opportunities or provide for a blend of remote and in-person learning when necessary.

Some students, depending on their location or situation, may not be able to return to campus for the start of the fall semester. We will find opportunities to ensure their academic progress is met until they are able to return. It is also important that we stay connected with our graduating seniors in this time of economic uncertainty and help them explore additional graduate, undergraduate or certificate options to make them even more important in a recovering workforce.

The Housing and Residential Life team worked tirelessly at the onset of this pandemic to develop a successful move-out plan that ensured safety for our students and staff. Through social distancing, nearly 4,000 students returned to campus to gather their belongings. These efforts provided us a powerful experience to prepare for students returning and living on campus next fall.

This team has already started exploring what this means in terms of having students on campus and adjustments we will need to make to critical services like the University Student Union, food service and the Wellness Center, vibrant areas of campus that thrive with students. Tutoring centers, writing centers and advising centers will also look at new methods and possible adjustments while will still providing the high level of service our students expect.

The rapid ascent of medical knowledge around COVID-19 will provide us other valuable opportunities, but it is clear this pandemic will continue to impact our society in the foreseeable future. There are those at our university, including students, faculty and staff who are at a higher risk to the impact of COVID-19 and safety will be the priority as we plan and prepare.

The next few months will require the efforts of many, but I am confident in our ability to develop a plan that will allow for a safe return to campus. We recognize the pandemic is still changing, and we will continue to be flexible in our preparation and execution. I thank you for your commitment and efforts to continue to make SDSU a premier university. Each of us has been personally impacted during this time, but our collective efforts have created new successes.

Please continue to be safe and protect your loved ones. Thank you for your patience and kindness as we continue to prepare for what I believe will be a bright future for South Dakota State University.


Barry H. Dunn. Ph.D.