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First Bank & Trust Gift Creates New Space for Sustainability Students

A&S Dean Michael Kruger, student Jordan Lowe, Tom Schaack, Meghann Jarchow, student Brigit Blote, and Anna Madsen, A&S director of development, together holding the donation check. Tom Schaack delivers an $11,000 donation to Meghann Jarchow to support the development of the department's Sustainability Solution Space, where students can gather to work on addressing sustainability challenges. Pictured left to right: A&S Dean Michael Kruger, student Jordan Lowe, Tom Schaack, Meghann Jarchow, student Brigit Blote, and Anna Madsen, A&S director of development.

VERMILLION, S.D. – An $11,000 donation from First Bank & Trust in Vermillion to the University of South Dakota’s Department of Sustainability & Environment will create a gathering place for students working on activities related to sustainability. Tom Schaack, community bank president of First Bank & Trust in Vermillion, delivered the gift on Feb. 12 after the USD College of Arts & Sciences raised matching funds.

Formerly the location of an earth science library and student lounge in USD’s Akeley-Lawrence Science Center, the Sustainability Solutions Space will allow undergraduate and graduate sustainability students to come together to do homework, work on class projects, gather for student organization meetings and meet to work on implementing sustainability projects.

According to Meghann Jarchow, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Sustainability & Environment, sustainability majors participate in an average of 10 experiential learning activities related to sustainability before they graduate. These activities include internships, undergraduate research and community-based learning projects. Sustainability students also compete in national and international social innovation contests such as the EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition and the international Hult Prize, which challenges teams to solve a pressing social problem with a for-profit start-up business.

“One of the strengths of the sustainability students is that they are highly engaged on campus, in the community and beyond,” Jarchow said. “Having well-designed and inviting physical spaces for people to meet—formally and informally—is important for building their capacity to engage. Thank you to First Bank & Trust for helping us to develop the Sustainability Solutions Space.”

First Bank & Trust’s Tom Schaack praised the program’s forward-looking approach to problem solving. “First Bank & Trust believes that this is a unique opportunity to participate in a university program that will be so vital to our future,” he said. “We are so proud that USD has the vision to bring, develop and grow sustainability here in South Dakota.”


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


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