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Major gift to benefit USD School of Law

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota Foundation announced today that Orrin Estebo, a Redwood Falls, Minn. attorney, has committed $1 million to support construction and renovation of the University of South Dakota School of Law.

A 1971 USD Law School graduate, Estebo said the gift was motivated by his experiences there. It’s the largest single contribution in Estebo’s expanding portfolio of philanthropy.

“Education opens doors,” he said. “I don’t care what you’re pursuing. The more I learned, the more I was subjected to opportunities that worked out.”

Estebo came to the USD in 1968, leaving his job in chemical sales, to pursue a law degree. He went on to write for the South Dakota Law Review, serve as Student Bar Association president and graduated with honors. His significant gift will be used to renovate and enhance the 32-year-old law school building, including expansion of the common space where students, alumni and the public gather.

“We’re honored and excited that Orrin has offered his generosity and leadership,” stated Thomas Geu, dean of the Law School, who added that Estebo’s gift demonstrates his understanding of the importance of community. “This gift will provide the physical space for dialogue to take place and the necessary human connections for community to emerge.”

The now mostly retired lawyer and businessman said giving also benefits the donor. “When people say you’re making a lasting difference and you can see it, that’s a good feeling.”

“It’s a gift,” he added. “I feel like I’m getting a gift.”

A photo of Estebo is available for download at


USD’s Knudson School of Law prepares students for leadership in the administration of justice in South Dakota, including in rural areas where the demand is great, and for private practice, public service, business and other law-related endeavors anywhere. Its joint degree program allows students to also earn one of nine master’s degrees within the traditional three-year law curriculum, which includes course tracks in business, commercial, constitutional, criminal, employment, environmental, Indian, real estate and tax law as well as civil litigation and estate planning.


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, Knudson 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.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News