The commencement ceremony was postponed this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Our decision to postpone the spring commencement was based on the recommendations of public health authorities and with the health and safety of the entire Coyote family and community in mind,” said USD President Sheila K. Gestring. “With the appropriate safety measures in place, the class of 2020 will be able to celebrate their accomplishments with family and friends on Saturday. USD is committed to providing them with a memorable graduation experience.”

Face coverings are required, and the Sanford Coyote Sports Center accommodates for physical distancing for both guests/family members attending and graduates seated as capacity has been limited.

Inès White ‘88 will deliver the keynote address at the commencement ceremony. 

White is an adjunct staff member of the Institute for Defense Analysis, Washington, D.C. She has provided her logistics and strategic planning expertise in Mali for the last four years as part of the Security Governance Initiative effort for the Minister of Defense and for the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement efforts for the Minister of Security. 

White served in the U.S. Army for 27 years as a Logistics Officer retiring with the rank of Colonel. Her last operational assignment was as the Chief of Staff, of the U.S. Army Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, a component command of both the U.S. Transportation Command and Army Materiel Command. Additional key positions include: Logistics Officer, Central Command (Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq), Transportation Battalion Commander (U.S. East Coast), and Corps Logistics Officer (Germany and Iraq).

White also served as the Military Director of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, an advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. In this position, she coordinated the research, analysis, development and Secretary of Defense Approval of its annual report. This published document contains critical recommendations on policies relating to the retention, treatment and employment of professional women in the Armed Services. 

She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in French and English from USD and a Master of Science degree in Human Resources Development from Webster University. Her military education includes the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, U.S. Army Transportation Officer Basic and Advance Courses and Airborne School.

White currently serves as the Vice President of the Board of Directors for SESDAC, Inc., a Vermillion, South Dakota, based organization which supports community members with disabilities. She also serves as a board member of Little Patriots Embraced and the Myhre Syndrome Foundation. 

“Inès has given her life to serving her country,” said Gestring. “We are honored to have Inès as keynote speaker, and we are sure her message will inspire our students as they begin the next chapter of their lives.” 

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