VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota will host the 131st Spring Commencement Ceremony May 5 in the Sanford Coyotes Sports Center honoring more than 2,000 graduates from this past academic year.
This is the first year USD will host a single commencement ceremony to honor all graduates of the academic year on the same day. Winter commencement was eliminated in December 2017. And it’s the first commencement to be held in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center instead of the DakotaDome.
It’s also the first time undergraduate and graduate ceremonies will be held separately – the undergraduate ceremony at 9:30 a.m. and the graduate ceremony at 3 p.m.
The speaker for the undergraduate ceremony is U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The graduate ceremony speak is David Pearce, Ph.D., executive vice president of innovation and research at Sanford Health.
Additionally, USD will present retiring USD President James W. Abbott and longtime member and past president of the S.D. Board of Regents and USD law graduate, Harvey Jewett, the honorary degrees of Doctor of Public Service.
James W. Abbott received his bachelor’s degree in 1970 from the University of South Dakota, followed by a law degree in 1974. He served in the South Dakota State House from 1991-1992. Abbott was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 1994, and ran for governor in 2002, but neither campaign was successful. In 1997 Abbott was named president of the University of South Dakota, the first alumnus to hold the office. He has supervised three successful fund-raising campaigns, leading to a $300 million renewal of the campus. He took USD into NCAA Division I athletics, increased enrollment to more than 10,000 and grew USD’s endowment to $218 million, the largest university endowment in South Dakota. Abbott is a trustee of the Freedom Forum, a Washington, D.C., organization devoted to the First Amendment, and he chairs the Newseum Institute, both founded by USD alumnus Al Neuharth.
Harvey C. Jewett of Aberdeen, South Dakota, received his law degree from USD in 1973. He served in the U.S. Army and practiced law in Aberdeen. He served as general counsel of Super 8 Motels, Inc., and currently is the president of The Rivett Group, L.L.C, in Aberdeen. He served for more than 20 years on the South Dakota Board of Regents, and served as president of the board from 1999-2009. During his tenure more than 105,000 degrees were awarded to public university graduates and nearly $1.2 billion was invested in upgrading infrastructure at BOR institutions. Jewett has a long history of philanthropy and service to public and private education at all levels. He has served on the boards of the USD Foundation, Law School Foundation, Hatterscheidt Foundation, Northwest Bank, S.D. and the Children’s Home Society. He was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2005.
View the full list of undergraduates candidates.
View the full list of graduate and professional candidates.