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President's Message - 2022

Four years ago, when our university launched its strategic plan, Imagine 2023, we challenged ourselves to be bold and achieve our vision of being a premier land-grant university. The question that continued to come to the forefront of each conversation during the planning period was, “What does it mean to be premier?”

This past year SDSU reached new milestones and continued to provide opportunities for the citizens of our state to receive the benefits of higher education. We found new, innovative ways to educate and train our students to be the leaders of tomorrow. Along the way we achieved many great things that were recognized for being bold and making SDSU a premier university.

Barry Dunn next to the McGraw Award

I personally was humbled by being recognized with the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Higher Education for our work with the Wokini Initiative. The recognition is reflective of the leading effort of many at our university and throughout the state to engage with tribal leaders and colleges in South Dakota while providing our American Indian students opportunities not previously afforded to them. I am proud of our university and everyone involved. While we still have much work to do, the award reflects their work as much as mine.

In September, a team of researchers at SDSU West River Research and Extension were awarded an $80 million grant by the USDA for the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Initiative, one of 70 selected projects as part of $2.8 billion in funding throughout the United States. It is the largest grant ever received by our university, and SDSU is one of only five in the nation to receive a grant of $50 million or higher. The desire the team has to impact society in a positive way and the vision it exhibited in developing the grant is premier and showcases our university to the nation and the world.

The South Dakota Freedom Scholarship launched to provide need-based scholarships to thousands of students throughout the state. SDSU is a value-driven land-grant university that provides a quality education to students from South Dakota, the region and beyond. The unique public-private partnership is made possible by the generosity of First PREMIER Bank/ PREMIER Bankcard, the state of South Dakota, Avera Health and Sanford Health.

In just one year $225 million has been raised, surpassing its $200 million goal and immediately impacting our university by helping fulfill its land-grant mission of providing access to higher education. It is an important factor in helping us enroll our largest freshman class in five years.

As we turn the corner toward the 2023–24 academic year, we will complete a refresh of our strategic plan. I have charged our campus, community and leaders around the state to think boldly about the future of SDSU. We will celebrate our accomplishments of the past five years, but also look at areas where we can improve and chart a path toward reaching new goals and aspirations. It is important work that we will share broadly among our key stakeholders and campus community.

SDSU takes pride in its efforts toward serving the citizens of South Dakota, and we look forward to what lies ahead.

Barry H. Dunn