The University of South Dakota School of Education is proud to celebrate 90 years of excellence. As we take time to remember our rich history, we are also looking forward to the next 10 years of achievements through nationally recognized research, teaching and partnerships while serving as the state’s flagship university.

Read a Letter From Our Dean

1927-195290th Annivesary School of Education building
Building a Foundation

In 1927, the School of Education became part of the University of South Dakota’s campus. It was housed in the Arts & Science Building, pictured above, and the first School of Education students graduated in 1929 with Bachelor of Science degrees. They were Nora Atherton, William Ireland, Gerald Smith and Zelfa Stroh.

The School of Education persevered through the Great Depression and World War II and began to grow in the early 1950s by adding physical education to the school curriculum and setting the stage for a period of rapid growth.


1952-197790th Anniversary Delzell Education Center
Growing Strong

The School of Education opens the doors to its new building. This new building was state-of-the-art for its time. It was the first in the state to have central air conditioning and also included a closed-circuit television system for students to use.

During this period, we saw significant growth in enrollment and recognition. Approximately one-fourth of student enrollments at USD were education majors.

Our dean at the time, Mark Delzell, foresaw the impact technology would have on learning. His goal was to ensure students would be prepared for new types of learning and teaching.

We applied for and received accreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in Chicago, Illinois presented the Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Teacher Education for our outstanding teacher education programs.


1977-200290th Anniversary 1977
Reaching Out

In recognition of Dean Mark Delzell’s leadership and vision, the School of Education’s building was renamed the Delzell Education Center. Thanks to his forward thinking and vision in education, we became involved in many state and national initiatives.

In the state, the School of Education influenced education practices and developed teacher leaders through partnerships with Sinte Gleska University to focus on the diverse issues in our state. In addition, a mentoring and induction program was created through partnerships with K-12 school districts to support new teachers entering the profession and provide professional development to veteran teachers. At the national level, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education recognized our curriculum as top in the nation in preparing students to understand diversity and the impact it has on communities.

Research done in the School of Education and university-wide earned us the title Doctoral University: Higher Research Activity by the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching. This commitment to research is continued today.


2002-201790th Anniversary 2002
Excelling Into the 21st Century

This was a time of learning and innovation through technology, self-reflection, mental and physical health and the use of data-driven decision-making. The School of Education responded to the call of the 21st century by developing strong leaders, sound researchers/scholars, capable practitioners and quality educators. This led to us embracing our call as the state’s only comprehensive school of education as represented by our divisions of Counseling and Psychology in Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership and Kinesiology and Sport Management.

The USD School of Education was selected by the Bush Foundation as one of 14 universities in the region - and the only university in South Dakota - to redesign their teacher education programs. The Bush grant funded the creation of the yearlong teacher residency program, scholarships for students and aided in the retention of our current students. The true impact of the residency program on K-12 learning was emphasized in the teacher residency impact report. The school has taken on the charge to work with the state, communities and school districts to respond to its ever-growing diverse populations by engaging in culturally responsive practices.

We have gained national recognition within each division. Educational Leadership has joined the Carnegie Project on the educational doctorate. The Curriculum and Instruction teacher residency program became a member of the National Center for Residency Programs. Counseling and Psychology in Education earned national accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and the National Association of School Psychologists. Kinesiology and Sport Management graduates are employed by major sports organizations and sport companies like Nike. This year, they moved into the new Sanford Coyote Sports Center.


2018-202790th Anniversary 2018
Forging a Legacy of Excellence

As we move toward our 100th year, we look to capitalize and build on our great history. We will expand our state, regional, national and international recognition of our quality programs and research. We will continue to graduate students who make a positive impact in the world and compete in the marketplace. We have our eyes set on contributing to the field through our research on and the practice of the science of learning, technology and leadership. Our faculty are dedicated to mental health, the impact of neuroscience on health and learning, biomechanics and exercise science and culturally responsive practice. These efforts will enhance local communities and promote healthy lifestyles around the world.