Sheila Gestring, vice president of finance and chief financial officer at the University of South Dakota, will lead that institution forward as USD’s 18th president, the South Dakota Board of Regents announced Tuesday.
Gestring, a South Dakota native who holds a master of business administration degree from USD, becomes president at the Vermillion campus June 22, 2018. She succeeds James W. Abbott, who is retiring after 21 years at the USD helm, the second longest-serving president in the university’s history.
Regents’ officials said Gestring’s experience guiding the overall financial health of the university, as well as her work with the USD Foundation to set major fund-raising goals and priorities, demonstrated her qualifications for the job.
“Her track record at USD speaks for itself,” said Regent Kevin Schieffer, who chaired the presidential search committee. “She has excelled at every challenge given to her over the years. She knows this university and its needs very well. She has clear goals for bringing USD to even greater prominence, and she is ready to lead us there. President-elect Gestring brings home-grown brilliance, her legendary South Dakota work ethic, and proven executive abilities to one of the most important jobs in our state. We are excited to work closely with her in her new role as president.”
USD will host the 131st Spring Commencement Ceremony May 5 in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
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.
The speaker for the undergraduate ceremony is Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, distinguished USD alumnus who serves the Texas 8th congressional district north of Houston and chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. The graduate ceremony speaker is David Pearce, Ph.D., executive vice president of innovation and research at Sanford Health.
Summer work experience can make a critical difference in the future career outcomes for college students, according to Kasandra Girard, coordinator at the Academic and Career Planning Center at USD. She recommends that students complete at least one – even better, two – internships during their college years.
Even freshmen can benefit from an internship or a related work experience during the summer. Working even part-time or volunteering in the community will develop work skills and help students decide their future paths. As students learn their strengths and weaknesses through summer jobs they will have a new perspective when they return to academics in the fall.
The Academic and Career Planning Center at USD helps students find internships and related work experiences. USD offers several career events through the year to help students meet employers who have jobs available. For more information see usd.edu/acpc.