Dr. Peggy Gordon (Elliott) Miller became the 18th President of South Dakota State University and the first woman to lead South Dakota State on January 1, 1998. She came to Brookings from Washington, D.C. where she was a Senior Fellow and Acting Vice-President for Academic and International Programs at the American Association of State College and Universities.
In December 2005, Dr. Miller announced her plans to retire from the presidency at the end of the calendar year 2006. By the time of her retirement the university would have finished its 125th anniversary year and the second phase of the Lead Forward agenda would be underway. During her tenure as president new buildings were constructed such as the Performing Arts Center and Caldwell Hall. Remodeling projects were also undertaken, such as the University Student Union and Crothers Engineering Hall with plans for a remodeling project of Shepard Hall. Plans for a wellness center, an equestrian practice facility and a research park were also underway. It was also during her tenure that the university began the Jackrabbit Guarantee scholarship, new Ph. D and research programs, the Centers of Excellence and the Vanguard Center. The most significant program was the move to Division I athletics. It is through this move that Dr. Miller envisioned a degree of national exposure that would encourage out-of-state students to the university.