Barry H. Dunn was named the 20th president of South Dakota State University in April 2016, the fourth alumnus chosen to lead the institution. He assumed office May 23, 2016.
Dunn launched a number of key initiatives in his first year. At the top of the list was Strategic Planning, 2023, the university’s next strategic plan process that launched in January 2017 with an implementation goal of July 1, 2018. It includes a collaborative and extensive process, reaching out to all corners of South Dakota and renewing the values of the 1862 land-grant mission that founded South Dakota State University.
Dunn also developed and began the Wokini Initiative, an effort that will offer programming and support to enrolled members of the state’s nine tribal nations interested in gaining access to educational and advancement opportunities at South Dakota State University. Wokini will also enhance research and outreach collaborations and programs with tribes, tribal colleges and other tribal organizations in the state.
Dunn’s time at SDSU dates to the mid 1970s when he received a bachelor’s degree in biology at SDSU and subsequently completed two graduate degrees in animal science—a master’s in 1977 and a Ph.D. in 2000. He became the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences in 2010. He also served as director of SDSU Extension and as a professor of animal science.
As dean, Dunn led a college with some 550 faculty and staff, 2,800 graduate and undergraduate students, and a $78 million annual budget, including more than $20 million in grant and contract awards, fundraising and development. He shaped the academic and strategic direction of eight departments, spanning 18 degree programs, one regional research and outreach center, six research field stations and 14,500 acres of Agricultural Experiment Station research land.
As Extension director, Dunn administered and set the vision for five program areas across two colleges and nine departments, as well as eight regional extension centers with a $12 million annual budget. He led a team of approximately 150 faculty and staff members and 3,500 adult volunteers.
Prior to that, Dunn spent six years at Texas A&M University-Kingsville from 2004 to 2010, as executive director of the King Ranch Institute for Range Management. He first worked in Brookings as an Extension livestock specialist and as an assistant professor in SDSU’s Department of Animal and Range Science from 1997 to 2004.
From 1979 to 1996, Dunn was a successful rancher, managing his family’s cattle ranch in Mission, South Dakota. In 2015, he was appointed to the South Dakota Habitat Conservation Fund by Gov. Dennis Daugaard, and to the Governor’s Pheasant Work Group, 2014. He served as an ex-officio member of the Ag Advisory Board for the First Dakota National Bank in Yankton, South Dakota, from 2011 to 2016, and was a member of the Board of Directors for Padlock Ranch, Dayton, Wyoming from 2009 to 2017.
Dunn has a rich academic background, was a successful rancher and farm operator and is a published author and researcher. He is a nationally recognized expert in beef production and ranching systems, and is a member of several professional organizations, including the Society for Range Management, the American Society of Animal Science, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. He has a deep historical and cultural knowledge of South Dakota and South Dakota State University, and strong, statewide relationships with industry influencers and stakeholders, including government officials, business leaders, university administration, faculty and staff.
Dunn and his wife, Jane, maintain her family’s original homestead north of Brookings where they raised their two sons.