We have a saying at South Dakota State University that “it’s a great day to be a Jackrabbit!” This past calendar year has certainly proved that at SDSU as we continue to provide opportunities for our students, faculty and staff to be successful and understand what it means to be a Jackrabbit.
We completed our spring 2021 semester with four commencement ceremonies on our historic college green and awarded more than 2,500 degrees. It was the culmination of a long year, where, like everyone in higher education, we were challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and how to keep our campuses safe while allowing our students to continue their educational path toward graduation.
It was rewarding to know we provided those opportunities, and our faculty and staff continued to prepare students to fill critical workforce needs as our state, country and world continues to climb out of the pandemic.
It took all of us to reach that goal, from the dedicated custodial staff who cleaned classrooms and buildings, to the residence hall staff who maintained our policies in living spaces to keep everyone safe, to our faculty who found new and creative ways to provide hands-on experiences for our students to learn. It also took our students, whose college experience had significantly changed, to understand the challenges and accept them while being able to learn and grow on their educational journey.
When we turned our attention to the fall 2021 semester, it was clear COVID-19 was still going to have an impact on our campus, but the arrival of vaccines would allow us to have a more traditional campus setting.
As committed lifelong advocates of the land-grant mission and its importance to society, we once again engaged with our industry partners like never before. This included launching the Sioux Falls Academy in a manner that allowed us to learn and understand the emerging needs of our state’s largest community. We continue to expand on those relationships and grow in ways that are mutually beneficial to all involved, including industry and educational partners.
We engaged with commodity groups and leading businesses to begin developing collaborations and conducting research that will produce the next generation of agriculture. As a result, we opened the Raven Precision Agriculture Center, allowing us to expand on our ability to teach and develop farmers and ranchers who are practicing sustainable agriculture. We returned to a more traditional homecoming celebration and brought thousands of alumni and others to campus for an exciting weekend.
But our work is not done. Last fall, we launched the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in our state’s history. Bold and Blue will raise $500 million for the people, places, traditions and innovations at SDSU. More resources for student scholarships, endowed faculty positions, facilities and a commitment to preserving our heritage and traditions are fundamental to the success of the campaign.
It is not only a great day to be a Jackrabbit, but a great time to be a Jackrabbit.
Barry H. Dunn