USD President announces retirement

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“I want to be remembered as the guy who really enjoyed the students and felt that the students were the most important thing,” says USD President James Abbott.

USD’s president surprising the audience at his State of the University address, leaving the audience in a standing ovation. After 21 years of service, Abbot plans to retire June 30th, 2018; just after his 70th birthday. 

But that’s not without leaving some remarkable impacts on the campus community. Abbot has handed out more than 31,000 degrees during his tenure and has helped increase student population by lowering tuition rates for students from Iowa. 

“Last year the region made the decision to allow Iowa students to get in-state South Dakota rates instead of out-of-state rates which are significantly higher. We pushed very hard to make that happen and I’m glad we got to make it happen,” says Abbott. 

Abbott hopes that his decision to lower student costs will increase and attract a larger number of students. According to statistics he’s done just that. 

“The indicators from Fall 2016 to Fall 2017 headcount since 2016 was 10,038. Today it is 10,261 for a 2.2 percent increase,” says Abbott. 

Abbott hopes to make as many positive influences as he can while he serves his final year at his alma mater. 

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President James W. Abbott says his 20-year career at the University of South Dakota is coming to an end. He will retire in June of 2018.

“This has been both the most rewarding – and the most demanding – job of my life,” Abbott said. “USD is positioned well for the future. We have a strong and growing enrollment, academic programs that are second to none, and Division I athletics.”

“I’m proud of my alma mater and all the progress we’ve made,” he said. “Now it is time for new leadership to take USD to the next level.”

Abbott is USD’s 17th president, the only alumnus to serve as president and the second longest-serving president in the university’s 155-year history. The 69-year-old Abbott became president of USD on July 1, 1997.

Abbott entered the president’s office with a budget of $90 million. Today the university’s budget is $215 million. Enrollment has grown from 7,448 to 10,261 students. The number of full-time faculty has grown from 393 to 436, while the staff has stayed the same at about 1,400.

Scholarships and financial awards to students have nearly tripled, from $6.5 million in 1997 to $24 million last year. The USD endowment is six times larger, growing from $45 million to $258 million, thanks to two successful fund-raising campaigns during Abbott’s tenure.

During the past 20 years Abbott has led a vigorous building campaign to repair and refurbish historical structures on campus and upgrade laboratories while adding these new buildings:
– Lee Medical Building (2008)
– Muenster University Center (2008)
– Beacom School of Business (2010)
– Coyote Village residence hall (2010)
– Wellness Center (2011)
– Sanford Coyote Sports Center and Track-Soccer Complex (2016)

In addition, the USD Discovery District, now under construction near University Center in Sioux Falls, will realize Abbott’s dream of turning university research into viable, commercial products, boosting the economy and providing research opportunities for USD students.

The district will expand on the success of the GEAR Center (Graduate Education & Applied Research) also located next to University Center. GEAR, built in 2009, supports applied research by the public universities in the state and is home to USD’s Biomedical Engineering doctoral program.

– Press release from the University of South Dakota

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