Sanford School of Medicine School of Medicine

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Our History

History of USD
  • The University of South Dakota was established at Vermillion by the Dakota Legislature in 1862 and began classes in 1882.
  • USD has the responsibility of serving all of South Dakota with quality education at the undergraduate as well as graduate levels.
  • The University serves the state of South Dakota with multiple health affairs programs, including the Sanford School of Medicine.
  • The first academic unit of the University was the College of Arts and Sciences, established in 1883. Other academic units and the dates of their establishment are the School of Law, 1901; the School of Medicine, 1907; the School of Education, 1927, the School of Business, 1927, the Graduate School, 1929, the College of Fine Arts, 1931; the School of Nursing, 1954; and the School of Health Sciences in 2007.
Our History
  • Our school began in 1907 with an original curriculum that consisted of two years of pre-medical work and two years of medicine.
  • In 1920, the College of Arts and Sciences assumed the pre-medical curriculum, and we concentrated on the first two years of instruction in medical science.
  • In 1951, construction was completed on the original Andrew E. Lee Memorial Medicine and Science Building. The facility was expanded in 1960, permitting the enlargement of research areas and teaching labs. A new addition opened in 1969, which also provided expansion and improvement in teaching and research facilities.
  • In 1974, we became a four-year medical school focused on family medicine.
  • One year later, provisional accreditation was granted by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the first third-year class of 40 students was enrolled on May 12, 1975.
  • After 68 years as a two-year medical school, we started a full clinical program, received full accreditation and graduated the first Doctors of Medicine on May 14, 1977.
  • Students in their first two years attend classes in the Lee Medical Building in Vermillion.
  • Third- and fourth-year students learn at our partner hospitals in Rapid City, Sioux Falls or Yankton, making our educational program a statewide cooperative endeavor.
  • While our students are trained to allow them to enter any specialty, our curriculum emphasizes family medicine along with other primary care specialties with the support and good work by practicing physicians from a broad range of specialties.
  • In 2002, after our last accreditation visit, we received the longest possible reaccreditation of seven years. An accreditation team will return to visit the school in October 2009.
  • In 2004, a groundbreaking was held for the new Lee Medical Building, which was officially dedicated on September 5, 2008.
  • In 2005, philanthropist T. Denny Sanford presented us a $20 million gift, and we officially became the Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota.