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Ness School Year in Review 2019

Ness School Year in Review

Ness School 2019 Year in Review

We became the Ness School of Management & Economics

On July 1 the South Dakota State University Economics Department became the Ness School of Management and Economics. The school is named after Larry and Diane Ness, the former of which is CEO and Chairman of the Board of First Dakota National Bank in Yankton. The formation of the Ness School provided new opportunities for innovative courses for the students and the visibility needed to attract students interested in career fields in business and management. The new structure of the school will allow better support for the faculty, staff and students to engage and learn with each other and meet the challenges global economic climate.

Our students won the IFAMA Conference Case Study Competition 

In June a group of students went on a study abroad trip to Hangzhou, China where they competed in the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association competition. During the competition, the team of four students were presented with a scenario in which they had four hours to identify the problem, find a solution, present to the panel of judges and do a question-and-answer session about their solution. Our team faced five other universities from across the globe and came out on top. They were awarded first place, defeating a team from New Zealand in the finals. Our team included Derek Nehring, Richard Mulder, Nikita Medvedev and Austin Broin.

Student club officers attended a retreat

Club officers from all six student clubs in the Ness School gathered this spring for the annual Student Leadership Retreat. Students and advisors gathered at Camp Lakodia on Lake Herman to talk about effective leadership, do team building activities, plan for the upcoming year and have some fun as well.

We hosted a Fall Kick-Off

In September the student clubs of the Ness School hosted a Fall Kick-Off fundraiser. The event was a hit with a dunk tank where students and faculty took a chance at dunking their professors. The funds raised from the dunk tank throws went directly to help fund student club activities and opportunities. The Kick-Off also featured student club booths and free SDSU Ice Cream.

We hosted the 60th Mountain Plains Business Conference

This October the Ness School of Management & Economics had the pleasure of hosting the 60th Mountain Plains Business Conference. The two-day conference was an opportunity for researchers, educators, practitioners and students from across the Midwest to get together and reflect on and debate issues in all areas of business and business education.

We raised a ton of money during One Day for State

Also, in September SDSU put on the 3rd annual One Day for State event to raise money that directly benefits all Jackrabbits. This year in 24 hours $1,348,477 was raised to support opportunities like scholarships, academic programming and student travel. It was a day filled with generosity, community and Jackrabbit spirit.

We hosted two career fairs

-During both the spring and fall semesters of the 2019 school year the Ness School hosted two successful career fairs. These career fairs provided students with the opportunity to connect with over 30 employers from across the state and the Midwest. Employers that attended the career fairs offered students internship, part-time and full-time positions as well as industry information for those exploring different career fields.

We hosted the 65th Annual Celebration in Excellence in Economics

-In the spring, the Ness School put on its 65th Annual Celebration in Excellence in Economics. We honored and celebrated our distinguished alumni, Brian Gatzke and Pat Lyons, at the event.

Brian Gatzke earned his Bachelor’s in Agriculture Business and Commercial Economics from SDSU. Brian has served in state, regional, and national leadership roles and board positions in the ASFMRA and The Appraiser Institute. In 2018, he was awarded National Rural Property Appraiser of the Year. Brian is committed to developing the next generation of real estate property professionals, he has hired SDSU interns at his firm and has taught real estate property courses at SDSU.

Pat Lyons grew up in Brookings and earned his Economics degree from SDSU in 1968. He earned both an MBA and JD from USD. Pat started teaching at SDSU in 1975 and taught Personal Finance, Legal Environment of Business, Personal Selling and Hospitality Law over the years. He absolutely loved working with students and faculty at SDSU and said that he couldn’t believe he “got paid to do this.” We loved him too as he was awarded The Teacher of the Year award five different times. Pat Lyons did so much for our school and his impact will live on forever.


We have accomplished so much over the past year and can’t wait to do more improving, innovating and learning in the year 2020. We are looking forward to the new year and all the new possibilities that come with it. Happy Holidays from the Ness School of Management & Economics.

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