USD President James Abbott announced his retirement Wednesday during the annual State of the University Address.
“This concludes my 21st State of the University Address. It is also my last,” he said on stage in Aalfs Auditorium. “I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have served my alma mater for 21 years. I’m also very grateful from the support right from the beginning of the students, faculty and staff, the Vermillion community, our alums and supporters from far and near… I really do feel as if I’ve been blessed to have spent 21 years in my alma mater.”
Abbott is USD’s 17th and second longest-serving president. He took office in July of 1997.
According to a USD press release, he will retire in June of 2018.
“I’m often asked, what’s the best thing about being a university president, and my answer is always the same and it’s graduation day,” he said.
In his 20 years here, USD has issued 35,148 degrees, he added.
In a brief interview with The Volante following the Address, Abbott said he’s looking forward to traveling and seeing his grandchildren in retirement.
“I will miss the students the most,” he said. “They are the life of the university. They make it fun.”
In addition to the press release, an email was sent from the Office of the President at 5 p.m.
“I know all of you will join me in supporting the success of USD for many years to come – whether it is in the classroom, in the laboratory or on the athletic field. Be assured that I remain thankful for the experiences USD has given me, and for the support of faculty, staff and students over the years,” the email stated.
Abbott said he wanted to make the announcement early to give the South Dakota Board of Regents enough time to conduct a thorough and likely nationwide search for a replacement.
“For the next nine months, while I remain Coyote-in-Chief, I will focus on preparing our university to face new challenges and to reach new heights as South Dakota’s flagship university,” his email stated.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that President Abbott is USD’s longest-serving president, not the second longest-serving president. The Volante regrets the error.