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USD to confer degrees at 37th Winter Commencement on Dec. 15

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Chief Justice David E. Gilbertson will be the keynote speaker for the University of South Dakota’s 37th Winter Commencement at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15. More than 560 candidates will receive degrees during the ceremony at the DakotaDome on the USD campus.

A native of northeast South Dakota and a 1975 graduate of the University of South Dakota School of Law, Gilbertson was elected to a four-year term as chief justice by the members of the state Supreme Court in September 2001. He was re-elected to a second four-year term as chief justice by members of the state Supreme Court in June 2005, and a third four-year term in June 2009. Appointed to the South Dakota Supreme Court in April 1995 to represent the 5th Supreme Court District, Gilbertson was retained by voters in general elections in 1998 and in 2006.

Prior to serving on the state Supreme Court, Gilbertson engaged in private practice from 1975 until his appointment to the circuit court bench in 1986. Additionally, he served as deputy state’s attorney and as an attorney for several municipalities and school districts. A past president of the South Dakota Judges Association, Gilbertson is a member of the Conference of Chief Justices and chairs its committees on Tribal/State Relations and the Task Force on Politics and Judicial Selection. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Conference of Chief Justices from 2005-2007. In 2006, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Center for State Courts for his defense of judicial independence.

Before earning his Juris Doctor from the USD School of Law, Gilbertson received his undergraduate degree from South Dakota State University in 1972. He currently serves on the Judicial-Bar Liaison Committee of the State Bar Association and is a member of the Glacial Lakes Bar Association, the Brown County Bar Association and the South Dakota Bar Association. He and his wife, Deborah, have four children. A photo of Gilbertson is available for download at


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News