This year, the University of South Dakota turns 150 years old and to celebrate, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard is declaring April 20 as USD Day.
“It’s a moment for USD to be proud of 150 years of educating students as well as being a part of many alumni’s’ lives, many students’ lives,” manager of media relations Phil Carter said. “It’s an opportunity for USD to not just celebrate the fact that it’s a birthday, but to celebrate that as an institution, it’s meant so much for so many people.”
To help kick off the celebration, the Alumni Association and USD Marketing and Relations are holding a birthday celebration starting at 12:30 p.m. in the Pit Lounge of the Muenster University Center.
“It’s a time for cake, refreshments and camaraderie with faculty, alumni and students to have an open house and celebrate,” Alumni Relations Coordinator Michelle Green said.
The event includes a short program with speakers President James Abbott, SGA President Alissa VanMeeteren and Kersten Johnson, excutive director of the Alumni Association, as well as a round of “Happy Birthday” to Charlie Coyote led by the USD Pep Band and football head coach Joe Glenn.
Abbott said the year-long celebration is an opportunity for the university to take a step back and remember where we came from and where we’re going. He said universities traditionally and historically reflect what is important to a state.
“At the time this university was created, one of the first acts of Dakota Territory created the university,” he said.
Abbott said while the founding of the university reflected the wishes and priorities of the first white settlers, he said the absence of Native American influence in the act is unfortunate.
“It’s important to state that so when we remember the history of this university, we also remember that a significant part of our population was omitted in its creation.”
The president said much has come from the decision to found the university.
“One hundred and fifty years of tradition sprang out of that first legislative act and it’s important not only to honor the creation of the university, but also to look back at what’s been accomplished.”
For students, Carter said the celebration should elicit a sense of pride in their campus community.
“Students in today’s world, with so much going on, it’s kind of nice to reflect once in awhile on an achievement like this and be proud they go to a college, an institution that is celebrating 150 years of education in South Dakota.”
VanMeeteren, who will be speaking at Friday’s event, said the sesquicentennial gives students a chance not only to look back, but to look forward.
“It creates such a firm foundation to build an additional 150, even plus years, of excellence, tradition and general experiences off of,” the SGA president said.