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Dean Venky Venkatachalam of the Beacom School of BusinessAs we near our winter break, I am incredibly proud of how this semester has turned out. While 2020 has been an unprecedented year filled with challenges and uncertainty, our faculty, staff and students have shown resilience and have innovated to allow for a successful semester.

Innovation is a part of our DNA at the Beacom School of Business and that has never been more prevalent than right now. From ensuring that student success remains a top priority to working with businesses across the state to help them survive and thrive through the pandemic, our culture of innovation is stronger than ever.

We welcomed students back to campus in August, with a number of safety measures in place. Our classroom sizes are smaller than normal, and we have managed to keep most of our fall course offerings on-campus, moving a few courses to hybrid mode or online. Our faculty deserve high praise as they quickly embraced many changes (including teaching in other buildings on-campus due to classroom size limitations) and accommodated student needs through real-time streaming and/or posting recordings of class lectures online. A large number of events that we typically enjoy in the fall transitioned to a virtual format with a great deal of engagement. Employers also continue to recruit our students through virtual sessions and small on-campus meetings. These transitions have been incredibly smooth thanks to our dedicated faculty, staff and students.

Our partnerships with South Dakota’s business community continue to grow. In April our faculty led a series of webinars on key topics to help businesses manage through crisis. These webinars were attended by hundreds of business leaders throughout South Dakota and the region.

This summer 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. We had 26 student-faculty teams take on real-world business challenges of SD businesses. The 8-week engagement was very fast-paced and provided significant value to each of the businesses served by our consulting teams. Not only did this effort help the businesses address a problem they were facing, it also gave 52 students the opportunity to gain real-world experience and build career connections. The program was so successful that we look forward to continuing this offering in 2021.

In October, we brought South Dakota’s business and government leaders together for a conference on Business Implications of COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities for South Dakota. The conference included U.S. Senator John Thune and business leaders from four key industries in South Dakota. With 81 on-site attendees and 605 unique virtual participants the conference was a great opportunity to connect students with business and government leaders.

Since 2014 I have been witnessing firsthand how we, at the Beacom School of Business, are blessed with several very dedicated and hardworking faculty and staff who contribute in multiple ways to advance our great school and USD. Our faculty and staff bring positive energy every day, demonstrate a culture of caring for our students and colleagues for their success, and a “whatever it takes” attitude to meet challenges and pursue new opportunities to continue to distinguish USD as a leading university in the nation and the world.

Wishing you a healthy holiday season!

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