Skip to main content

Justice Judith Meierhenry to Speak at USD's Commencement 2019

Justice Judith Meierhenry headshot Justice Judith Meierhenry will deliver the keynote address at this year's commencement ceremony.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota welcomes Justice Judith Meierhenry to deliver the keynote address at the 132nd Spring Commencement Ceremony on May 4 in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.

Justice Meierherny served as a justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court from 2002 until her retirement in 2011, and she was the first woman to hold that position. Prior, she was a circuit court judge in the Second Judicial Circuit in Sioux Falls for 14 years. She holds three degrees from the University of South Dakota: J.D. ’77; M.A. ’68; and B.A.’66. At this year's commencement ceremony, Justice Meierhenry will be presented with an honorary doctorate degree.

Justice Meierhenry began her career as an English teacher in high school and college, which included two years as an instructor at USD from 1968-1970. After law school, she was in private practice with her husband, Mark Meierhenry, in Vermillion until moving to Pierre in 1979. While in Pierre, she served as secretary of Labor and secretary of Education and Cultural Affairs. After, she worked for Citibank in Sioux Falls as senior manager and assistant general counsel.

Justice Meierhenry has been honored with the USD Alumni Achievement Award for Public Service, the McKusick Award from the Student Bar Association of the University of South Dakota School of Law and the Fred. J. Nichol Award for Outstanding Jurist from the South Dakota Trial Lawyers.

“We are excited to have someone of Justice Meierhenry’s stature join us for this monumental day," explained President Sheila Gestring. “She has made a tremendous impact across our state that began when she crossed the USD graduation stage. We are certain her message will be something our students carry with them as they begin the next chapter of their lives.”


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