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USD College of Fine Arts to celebrate the life of John A. Day

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota will celebrate the life of John A. Day at 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1 at the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre in the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts.

A “Celebration of the Life of John A. Day” will pay tribute to Day, who died on Sept. 29. Day served as dean of the College of Fine Arts from 1980 to 2004 after joining the USD faculty in 1976 as chair of the art department. He also served as USD Vice President for Academic Affairs during the 1984-85 academic year.

In addition to his work as a member of the USD faculty, Day was active in advocating the arts throughout South Dakota, was well-known to many for his tireless work to promote Native American arts in the Northern Plains and focused much of his attention on the work of the prominent Sioux artist, Oscar Howe. His expertise on the life and art of Howe was instrumental in establishing the Oscar Howe Archives and Oscar Howe Memorial Association at USD. Day lectured and wrote on Howe for more than 30 years as well as organized several Howe exhibits.

Speakers for the Nov. 1 ceremony include Wayne Knutson, dean emeritus of the College of Fine Arts; Pat Boyd, executive director of the South Dakotans for the Arts; Native American artist Arthur Amiotte; Ron Moyer, former chair of the USD Department of Theatre; Cory Knedler, former Day student and current chair of the USD Department of Art; James W. Abbott, president of the University of South Dakota; and Larry Schou, current dean of the College of Fine Arts.

“John was an active and well-respected member of the state fine arts community,” Schou said. “He was tireless in his work to support art, music and theatre throughout South Dakota. He will be truly missed, but his legacy will live on in South Dakota through his many friends and colleagues who follow his lead in promoting Native American arts and the fine arts in general.”

The College of Fine Arts is also seeking submissions from the public about John Day. Persons can share their memories and stories of Day by submitting them to or by Thursday, Oct. 24. The information will be used in a booklet for the family


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.

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