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Explore the complex world of higher education and gain valuable and transferable leadership skills through the President's Executive Leadership Institute. Through this unique professional development opportunity for campus-based administrators and leaders, program fellows will learn about issues facing higher education broadly and the University of South Dakota specifically.

President Sheila K. Gestring supports this program as an opportunity to develop future university leaders, foster interdisciplinary collaborations and cultivate a strong connection to the campus community.

2021 Cohort

  • Jeremy Aylward, Coordinator, Business Operations and Financial Specialist, Dept. of Nursing  
  • Patti Berg-Poppe, Chair, Physical Therapy  
  • Alison Buckman, Manager of Creative Services  
  • David De Jong, Chair, Division of Educational Leadership  
  • Lauren Freese, Professor of Art  
  • Nate Gotto, Assistant Director, Human Resources   
  • Kyle Gruhn, Director of IT Operations & Development  
  • Lindsay Hayes, Coordinator, Student and Instructional Assessment  
  • Bryant Jackson, Assistant Director, University Police Department  
  • Jason Kemnitz, Assistant Dean for Academic Development and Faculty Affairs for the Sanford School of Medicine  
  • Kari Oyen, Director, School Psychology Program   
  • Katherine Price, Assistant Dean for Administration in the College of Arts & Sciences   
  • Megan RedShirt-Shaw, Director, Native Student Services  
  • KC Santosh, Chair, Computer Science  
  • Jewel Shepherd, Professor of Business  
  • Jamie Turgeon-Drake, Instructor of Health Sciences  
  • Rob Turner, Chair,  Modern Languages & Linguistics  
  • Katey Ulrich, Director of Admissions & Marketing, Knudson School of Law   
  • Carol Voss-Ward, Native American Student Academic Advisor 
  • Brittany Wagner, Director of Graduate Education  

Program Participation

  • Cohorts will be selected by the members of the President's Executive Leadership Institute committee.
  • Program runs August 2021 - May 2022.
  • Each class begins with an off-campus retreat and participates in one full-day session each month throughout the academic year.
  • To maximize the benefits of the program, participants are expected to attend all sessions, unless arrangements are made in advance with the President's Office. 


  • Increase knowledge and awareness of issues and challenges facing higher education and the University of South Dakota
  • Enhance leadership, management and decision-making skills 
  • Learn about the relationship between the South Dakota Board of Regents and the University of South Dakota
  • Explore the role of strategic planning and budgeting in advancing department and unit interests in alignment with the overall mission of the university
  • Identify appropriate strategies in addressing key issues and achieving organizational goals
  • Understand state and federal government issues that affect higher education
  • Expand networking opportunities and resources available at the local, state and national levels in sustaining the university and its mission


  • Application must include 1) a letter from the applicant expressing interest in the program and career goals; 2) two letters of recommendation; and 3) a current resume or CV.
  • Please send all application materials or questions regarding the program to by April 9, 2021. 

Program Launch

Executive Leadership Retreat
Aug. 10-12
Arrowwood Resort
Oacoma, South Dakota