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Dean Venky Venkatachalam of the Beacom School of BusinessAs we close out another school year at the Beacom School of Business, we reflect on how different this spring semester was compared to any that have come before.

The University of South Dakota ended all in-person instruction due to COVID-19 during spring break and transitioned all classes to remote instruction. While the sudden change was not something anyone anticipated, our students, faculty and staff handled the transition remarkably well. I have been incredibly proud to lead this team of faculty and staff as they have embraced change and innovation these last few months to allow our school to continue to serve our students and partners. We are all looking forward to a return to campus and welcoming students back in the fall! Many plans are in place to prepare for this safe and healthy return.

The commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 has been rescheduled to October 24, 2020. The Beacom School of Business is very proud of our undergraduate and graduate students who completed their degrees this year. The resilience that they have shown during this challenging time will undoubtedly be an asset that they will carry with them throughout their careers. It has been a joy to watch these students throughout their academic careers and I look forward to celebrating their accomplishments in the fall

The Beacom School of Business launched two new initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic to try to help businesses that are facing so many challenges at this time. In April, we launched a webinar series focused on key topics to help South Dakota businesses manage through crisis. This initiative was launched in conjunction with our outreach centers: The Prairie Family Business Association and the South Dakota Small Business Development Center. These webinars were led by our outstanding faculty and attended by hundreds of business leaders throughout South Dakota and the region.

In addition, we launched Coyote Business Consulting Group, a new student-centered initiative designed to help businesses survive and stay competitive in the state of South Dakota and throughout the region. Not only will this program help businesses, it will also provide business students with crucial opportunities to gain real-world experiences as their internships and summer jobs are getting delayed or canceled. This program has garnered a tremendous amount of interest and we look forward to launching our first set of projects with our student consulting teams in early June.

Our annual Beacom Awards Dinner has been postponed to the fall, but we are pleased to announce the winners of our 2020 awards. Scott Sletten ’87, is the recipient of the Beacom Distinguished Service Award for his hard work and dedication to the community as well as our school. In addition, there are a number of awards that we give out to students, staff and faculty for excellence in education and leadership. This year’s recipients include Sophia Lima (Outstanding Senior), McKenna Golden (Outstanding Graduate Student), Kate Amundson (Staff Excellence), Mandie Weinandt (Faculty Excellence – Teaching), and Bart Hanus (Faculty Excellence – Research). I appreciate everything that each of these award recipients bring to our school.

The Beacom School of Business Executive Education programs were quickly transitioned during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that these vital learning opportunities could continue. We are incredibly thankful to our partners and participants for how quickly they have helped us adapt our programs and allow them to grow through this change. The virtual instruction opportunities that our faculty have utilized open the door to further growth in these programs in the future.

Wishing you and yours a safe and healthy summer and we hope to see you on campus in the fall!

Venky Venkatachalam, Ph.D.
Dean, Beacom School of Business