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USD President Abbott Announces Retirement

Photo of USD President Jim Abbott. President Abbott announces his retirement at the annual State of the University address.

VERMILLION, S.D. – President James W. Abbott says his 20-year career at the University of South Dakota is coming to an end. He will retire in June of 2018.

“This has been both the most rewarding – and the most demanding – job of my life,” Abbott said. “USD is positioned well for the future. We have a strong and growing enrollment, academic programs that are second to none, and Division I athletics.”

“I’m proud of my alma mater and all the progress we’ve made,” he said. “Now it is time for new leadership to take USD to the next level.”

Abbott is USD’s 17th president, the only alumnus to serve as president and the second longest-serving president in the university’s 155-year history. The 69-year-old Abbott became president of USD on July 1, 1997.

Abbott entered the president’s office with a budget of $90 million. Today the university’s budget is $215 million. Enrollment has grown from 7,448 to 10,261 students. The number of full-time faculty has grown from 393 to 436, while the staff has stayed the same at about 1,400.

Scholarships and financial awards to students have nearly tripled, from $6.5 million in 1997 to $24 million last year. The USD endowment is six times larger, growing from $45 million to $258 million, thanks to two successful fund-raising campaigns during Abbott’s tenure.

During the past 20 years Abbott has led a vigorous building campaign to repair and refurbish historical structures on campus and upgrade laboratories while adding these new buildings:

– Lee Medical Building (2008)
– Muenster University Center (2008)
– Beacom School of Business (2010)
– Coyote Village residence hall (2010)
– Wellness Center (2011)
– Sanford Coyote Sports Center and Track-Soccer Complex (2016)

In addition, the USD Discovery District, now under construction near University Center in Sioux Falls, will realize Abbott’s dream of turning university research into viable, commercial products, boosting the economy and providing research opportunities for USD students.

The district will expand on the success of the GEAR Center (Graduate Education & Applied Research) also located next to University Center. GEAR, built in 2009, supports applied research by the public universities in the state and is home to USD’s Biomedical Engineering doctoral program.

View the full presentation. Download a photo of President Abbott.


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 84 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.


Hanna DeLange
USD News