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USD to confer degrees at 126th Spring Commencement

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Michael M. Vekich, CPA, CEO of Vekich Chartered of Minneapolis, Minn. will be the keynote speaker as the University of South Dakota confers degrees to more than 1,400 students at the 126th Spring Commencement at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 4.

Vekich, a candidate for the nomination for governor of Minnesota in 2002, serves as chair of HF Financial Corp and Home Federal Bank, South Dakota’s largest publicly-traded savings bank. Previously, he was owner and CEO of Vekich Arkema & Company, a public accounting firm servicing clients in nine countries worldwide. Additional public service positions include chair of the Board of Trustees, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities; chair of the Minnesota State Board of Accountancy; and a former member of the Rochester, Minn. Higher Education Development Committee.

In 2008, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty appointed Vekich chair of the Governor’s 21st Century Tax Reform Commission. The commission provided advice and recommendations on reforming the state’s tax laws with the goal of making long-term improvements in the revenue system. Four years earlier, Pawlenty appointed Vekich acting director of the Minnesota State Lottery. During his eight-month tenure, he created the organization’s first strategic plan and increased profits by 26 percent to $100 million, the largest return to the state in the Lottery’s history. Vekich received a B.A. in accounting and business administration from the University of Minnesota.

In addition to a keynote address by Vekich and conferring of degrees, USD’s Spring Commencement will honor distinguished faculty from the 2012-13 academic year, including recipients of the Belbas-Larson Awards for Excellence in Teaching; the Richard and Sharon Cutler Awards in Liberal Arts; the John Wesley Jackson Memorial Award presented to the outstanding professor of law; and the College of Fine Arts Distinguished Professor Award.


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