While all colleges and universities utilize multiple data resources to measure student learning, all six public universities in South Dakota participating in College Portrait can gauge everything from student involvement to classroom environment to determine student success. USD stood out in several categories, including Institutional Commitment to Student Learning and Success.

"There are several factors that indicate we are promoting excellence in teaching and learning at USD, from a small faculty-to-student ratio (14 to 1) to 94 percent of all undergraduate classes having fewer than 50 students, but it all boils down to the students and their commitment to success as well as our faculty who provide extraordinary academic support," noted Chuck Staben, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at The University of South Dakota.

College Portrait is part of the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) initiative, a collaborative effort of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, and the public higher education community. Information on College Portrait delivers common data and information to prospective students and their families in survey form.

Ninety-six percent of USD seniors surveyed believed that The U provides support for student success, which is one of many reasons why students like Joe Svec, a native of Brookings, S.D., had an opportunity to apply for and receive prestigious national scholarships annually. Svec, a 2008 Fulbright Scholar, was one of six students from The U who were Fulbright, Goldwater, Udall, Truman and National Science Foundation scholarship recipients in 2008. He graduated in May with degrees in history and political science, and is teaching in South Korea.

Because The University of South Dakota is a strong advocate for public service and service-learning development outside the classroom, 66 percent of graduating seniors surveyed said participated in community service or volunteer work at The U such as working with multiple organizations that focused on rebuilding communities devastated by hurricanes on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and organizing a toy drive for homeless shelters in the Washington, D.C. area.

"Not only do USD students have a chance to learn in our local community," added Staben, "we provide them with several opportunities for personal and professional development outside the classroom."

More information about VSA and College Portrait is available at www.voluntarysystem.org/index.cfm?page=homePage. A link to College Portrait information is also available on the Board of Regents’ Web site at www.sdbor.edu.

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