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USD Beacom School of Business Hosted Implications of COVID-19 Conference for Over 680 Participants

USD President Sheila K. Gestring speaking to the in person attendees at the Business Implications conference. Everyone is in face coverings and physically distanced. USD President Sheila K. Gestring spoke at the Business Implications of COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities for South Dakota conference Oct. 14.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business hosted the Business Implications of COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities for South Dakota conference Oct. 14 for over 600 virtual attendees and 80 on-site attendees at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown in Sioux Falls.

“This conference on Business Implications of COVID-19 was a tremendous success, as it brought South Dakota’s business and government leaders together to discuss the challenges and put the spotlight on the opportunities,” said Venky Venkatachalam, Ph.D., dean of USD Beacom School of Business. “We need to think of and prepare ourselves for the current and post pandemic.”

The conference brought prominent leaders together to discuss the changes to their industry during the pandemic. It was intended for professionals in the state and the region looking to gain a better understanding of the changes to the South Dakota economy from COVID-19.

Speakers included Sen. John Thune, CorTrust Bank President and CEO Jack Hopkins, Daktronics Chief Financial Officer Sheila Anderson, Avera Chief Financial Officer Julie Lautt, and Poet Vice President of Corporate Affairs Doug Berven.

"2020 has been a difficult year for many communities in our region," said Tyler Custis, MBA, JD, assistant professor in the USD Beacom School of Business. "However, the Business Implications of COVID-19 conference provided a window into the resilience of South Dakota businesses. The insightful thoughts of the distinguished speakers highlighted how South Dakota will continue to innovate in ways that will make our economy stronger. As a faculty member, I can bring these ideas back to the classroom to better prepare our students to address the challenges firms are facing."

The conference was also open and free for students. Macy Halverson ’20, a first-year MBA student at the USD Beacom School of Business, attended the conference in person. She said that hearing from industry leaders about the opportunities in South Dakota was hopeful.

“Job searching has been difficult for college graduates since many companies have imposed hiring freezes as the result of the pandemic, but the speakers were hopeful the job market will begin rebounding soon,” Halverson said. “I'll use this, along with other information I learned at the conference, as I soon enter into the workforce."

“Our students need to be given opportunities to listen to and engage with the industry and government leaders, so they are well-prepared as they start and build their careers,” Venkatachalam said. “Our faculty are deeply committed to this goal and we plan to focus on sustaining this effort through a CEO Forum or equivalent going forward to bring leaders from around the world to engage with our faculty and students. South Dakota has an amazing worth ethic and a supply of high-quality and well-trained business talent that can serve the state, region and the nation well.”


USD's Beacom School of Business was established in 1927 and has been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) since 1949. The leading business school in the region, Beacom’s programs are consistently ranked among the top business schools in the nation by Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and others for its high-quality learning experience, student success, affordability, and high-caliber of faculty and students. Whether a student chooses face-to-face or online courses, Beacom’s programs emphasize real-world experience through professional organizations, quality internships and capstone projects.


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