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Miller Wellness Center Honors President Emerita’s Vision and Philanthropy

Fifteen years after her tenure ended as president of South Dakota State University, Peggy Gordon Miller’s legacy continues to make an impact at State. To celebrate Miller’s visionary dedication to SDSU, the Miller Wellness Center will carry the first female university president’s name moving forward.

SDSU President Barry Dunn, left, and SDSU President Emerita Peggy Gordon Miller at the Miller Wellness Center naming ceremony.
SDSU President Barry Dunn, left, and SDSU President Emerita Peggy Gordon Miller at the Miller Wellness Center naming ceremony Oct. 22.

For over 40 years, the Miller Wellness Center has enriched the lives of Jackrabbits, both personally and academically. Known simply as the Wellness Center until 2021, the Miller Wellness Center is home to state-of-the-art fitness equipment, a variety of recreational and intramural programs, effective wellness education, a student health clinic and counseling services. Through this dynamic combination of programs and offerings, the facility aims to foster academic success through personal development and well-being.

The mission of the Miller Wellness Center aligns perfectly with the ambitious endeavors introduced by Miller at State during her time as president. She was instrumental in the university’s move to NCAA Division I athletics and tirelessly advocated for the creation of the Jackrabbit Guarantee scholarship program.

In her goal to bring SDSU athletics into a new era of competition, she convinced legislators, the South Dakota Board of Regents and anyone who would listen that Jackrabbits deserved to compete at the highest levels on the field of play and in the classroom. Recognizing the scholarship opportunities available at colleges in neighboring states, she designed the Jackrabbit Guarantee to boost scholarship support in South Dakota while heightening accessibility to a higher education.

Miller’s contributions and accolades for the university are numerous and diverse, but each emphasizes excellence for Jackrabbits in every aspect of student life. The Miller Wellness Center was named for her in a ceremony Oct. 22.

“Tens of thousands of students will walk by the plaque at the entrance to this facility and learn about the strong leadership of the first woman to lead South Dakota State University,” said President Barry Dunn at the naming ceremony. “Jackrabbits have gone further because of the decisions President Emerita Peggy Gordon Miller made and the battles she won during her tenure … Her vision and belief that we needed to see ourselves differently continues to drive us forward today.”

In her time at SDSU, Miller encouraged students, alumni and friends to think bigger and dream bolder. The Miller Wellness Center helps all who visit to improve their mental and physical health, supporting the students for whom Miller advocated without fail.