South Dakota State University
SDSU South Dakota State University Logo.png
South Dakota State University
Former name
Dakota Agriculture College (1881–1904)
South Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (1904–1964)
TypePublic land-grant research university
Established1881; 141 years ago (1881)
Academic affiliations
Space-grant, Sun-grant
Endowment$213 million (2021) [1]
Budget$308 million (FY2022)[2]
PresidentBarry H. Dunn
ProvostDennis Hedge
Academic staff
Total staff
2,034.41 (FTE)[2]
Other students
342 (professional)[2]

44°19′05″N 96°47′00″W / 44.31806°N 96.78333°W / 44.31806; -96.78333Coordinates: 44°19′05″N 96°47′00″W / 44.31806°N 96.78333°W / 44.31806; -96.78333
Campus400.69 acres (162.15 ha)[2]
Colors    Yellow and blue[3]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I
Summit League
Big 12 Conference
MascotJack the Jackrabbit
South Dakota State University signature logo.svg

South Dakota State University is a public land-grant research university in Brookings, South Dakota. Founded in 1881, it is the state's largest and most comprehensive university and the oldest continually-operating university in South Dakota.[4] The university is governed by the South Dakota Board of Regents, which governs the state's six public universities and two special schools.

South Dakota State University is a land-grant university founded under the provisions of the 1862 Morrill Act. This land-grant heritage and mission has led the university to place a special focus on academic programs in agriculture, engineering, nursing, and pharmacy, as well as liberal arts. It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity". The graduate program is classified as Doctoral, Science, Technology, Engineering, Math dominant.[5]


The Coughlin Campanile completed in 1929 on west campus. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
The Coughlin Campanile completed in 1929 on west campus. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

The university was founded in the Dakota Territory on February 21, 1881, as Dakota Agriculture College. The first building, with funding from the territorial legislature, was built in 1883, six years before the State of South Dakota was formed. Numerous expansions were funded in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The name was changed in 1904 to South Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. In 1964, the name was changed to South Dakota State University. The name change was largely promoted by the Alumni Association. Initiated in 1962, this name change reflected the more comprehensive education offered at the university.[6]

In 1923, SDSU's instructional program was organized under five divisions: Agriculture, Engineering, General Science, Home Economics, and Pharmacy. In 1956, a Nursing program was established, and in 1957 a formal graduate school was formed. When the university changed its name in 1964, the colleges were renamed Agriculture and Biological Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Home Economics, Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Graduate School. In 1974, the College of General Registration (now the College of General Studies) was formed. In 1975, the Division of Education was created. An Honors College was formed in 1999. Two colleges and seven departments combined in 2009 to create the College of Education and Human Sciences.

In 2017, the colleges which make up the university were revised and in some cases renamed to the following: College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences; College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; College of Education and Human Sciences; College of Nursing; College of Pharmacy & Allied Health Professions; Graduate School; Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering; University College; and Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College.


On May 23, 2016 (formal inauguration held September 29, 2016), Barry H. Dunn became the 20th President of South Dakota State University. Dunn and his wife are alumni of SDSU, and prior to becoming president, Dunn was the Dean of SDSU's College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences.

  1. George Lilley, 1884–1886
  2. Lewis McLouth, 1886–1896
  3. John Heston, 1896–1903
  4. James Chalmers, 1903–1906
  5. Robert Slagle, 1906–1914
  6. Ellwood Perisho, 1914–1918
  7. Willis Johnson, 1919–1923
  8. Charles Pugsley, 1923–1940
  9. George Brown, 1940
  10. Lyman Jackson, 1941–1946
  11. Fred Leinbach, 1947–1951
  12. John Headley, 1952–1957
  13. H. M. Crothers, 1957–1958
  14. Hilton Briggs, 1958–1975
  15. Sherwood Berg, 1975–1984
  16. Ray Hoops, 1984–1985
  17. Robert Wagner, 1985–1997
  18. Peggy Gordon Miller 1998–2006
  19. David Chicoine, 2006–2016
  20. Barry H. Dunn, 2016–present


Main campus

Coolidge Sylvan Theatre
Coolidge Sylvan Theatre

The Hilton M. Briggs Library consists of more than 635,000 bound volumes, 315,000 government documents, 79,000 maps, and 1,800 journal titles (with 28,000 additional titles available online). Within the Briggs Library is the Daschle Research Library dedicated to former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (SDSU BA 1969), which houses his Congressional papers.

The University Student Union is at the center of campus and houses many amenities for both students and the public.[7] The Union is the home to numerous meeting rooms, a ballroom, The Hobo Day Committee (homecoming committee) the University Program Council,[8] Greek life[9] the Students' Association,[10] The Collegian[11] student newspaper, Student Legal Services, KSDJ 90.7 FM, Dining Services, four eating facilities, the University Bookstore, Card Services, and International Student Affairs.

The 73,000-square-foot (6,800 m2) SDSU Wellness Center opened in the fall of 2008. The building lightens up space in the HPER Center, allowing that to be used exclusively by athletes, while the Wellness Center is used only by students and the public. Student memberships are free and Brookings community members may purchase memberships. Numerous group exercise programs and classes are offered, along with personal training. The building houses a rock climbing wall, a track, three basketball courts, a competition size swimming pool, and numerous weights and cardiovascular equipment. It is also the home of Student Health, which includes a full pharmacy for students.

West campus

Avera Health Sciences Center on the west side of campus
Avera Health Sciences Center on the west side of campus

The Coughlin Campanile, formerly used as the campus bell tower, is a familiar sight around campus. The campus also has two museums, the South Dakota Art Museum (featuring works by Harvey Dunn and Oscar Howe, among others), and the South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum. The art museum is home to over 7,000 works of art, while the agricultural museum is home to over 100,000 objects. Both museums are open free to the public. The university operates its own dairy plant, processing 10,000 lb (4.5 t) of milk weekly into cheese and ice cream, operates a cattle and sheep breeding operation, has an on-campus meat processing facility, and has a student-operated pharmacy.

East campus

McCrory Gardens and South Dakota Arboretum on the east side of campus
McCrory Gardens and South Dakota Arboretum on the east side of campus

Also close to campus are the McCrory Gardens and South Dakota Arboretum. These gardens include a 20-acre (8.1 ha) public display and a 45-acre (18 ha) arboretum. The gardens are open daily to the public. SDSU is also home to State University Theatre and Prairie Repertory Theatre, which produce numerous plays and musicals during the school year and summer breaks.


SDSU awards associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees. The university provides 175 fields of study. The university's colleges and schools include College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences; College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; College of Education and Human Sciences; College of Nursing; College of Pharmacy & Allied Health Professions; Graduate School; Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering; University College; and Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College.

The following accreditations have been awarded to SDSU:


Academic rankings
THE / WSJ[13]501-600
U.S. News & World Report[14]284
Washington Monthly[15]281
U.S. News & World Report[16]1037

For 2021, U.S. News & World Report rated South Dakota State University as tied for the 144th best public university in the United States and tied as the 284th best university overall.[17]

Awards and Rankings. South Dakota State University.

Political Science Department

Political Science Alumni
U.S. Senate Majority Leader
Tom Daschle
U.S. Senator
Mike Rounds
U.S. Governor
Kristi Noem
A member of South Dakota's current Congressional delegation, the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, and the current Governor of South Dakota are among the university's alumni.

SDSU's Department of Political Science has been successful at producing many of the state's current and past congressional delegations. Currently, two of South Dakota's three congressional members are alumni in U.S. Senator Mike Rounds and Governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem. Noem completed her political science degree while she was in Congress. Perhaps the most notable of the program is former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Former U.S. Representative Stephanie Herseth has served as a professor of the program. The department produced two Truman Scholars in 2004 and 2006 respectively, including Tony Venhuizen.[18]

Department of Military Science

The Department of Military Science commissions officers into the military. The department's cadets complete the requirements for a bachelor's or graduate degree and are then commissioned as second lieutenants.

The department has been successful in producing many U.S. Generals including William E. DePuy, Jake Krull, Raymond W. Carpenter, Franklin J. Blaisdell, Mark A. Clark, as well as Medal of Honor recipient Leo K. Thorsness and Willibald C. Bianchi.

Military Alumni
Medal of Honor recipient
Leo Thorsness
Medal of Honor recipient
Willibald C. Bianchi
U.S. General
William E. DePuy
The Department has produced two Medal of Honor recipients as well as a plethora of U.S. Generals.

Research achievements

South Dakota State University currently ranks among the Midwest's top research universities, notably in the fields of agricultural science, biological science, and engineering.[19] It is consistently listed in U.S. News & World Report's "Top 200 National Universities" in its college and university rankings.[19] The campus is also home to the Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence, a research and educational collaboration with United States Geological Survey Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science.[20][21] The GSCE focuses on basic and applied research in terrestrial remote sensing.[22] SDSU was recognized in 2017 by ShanghaiRanking Consultancy as the seventh most productive university in the US (and 27th globally) for remote sensing research for the period 2011–2015.[23]

The university operates the South Dakota state agricultural research stations around the state, such as the Antelope Range and Livestock Research Station near Buffalo. The Great Plains Writers Conference is a venue for significant regional authors or writers interested in the Great Plains. It was instituted at SDSU in 1976 for writing scholarship.[24]

Alumni from the university's research community notable for scientific achievements include:

Online programs

SDSU offers a variety of online programs. The university offers associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and certificate programs that students can complete online.[30]

Housing and residential life

The northern Jackrabbit Village
The northern Jackrabbit Village

Students have a variety of residential hall and apartment living choices. Student housing is located in three areas: the Medary complex located in the northwest corner of campus, consisting of traditional residence halls, Hansen, and apartment-style living at Meadows North and Meadows South; the Grove complex near the Student Union, consisting of traditional residence halls, Brown, Mathews and Pierson, as well as a newer (2010) variation on the theme of traditional residence halls in Spencer, Thorne and Abbott (also called the Jackrabbit Village); and the Larson complex on the east side of campus, consisting of traditional halls Binnewies and Young and suite living at Caldwell Hall. The residential halls on the campus of SDSU make up the densest concentration of people in South Dakota.

All of the residence halls with the exceptions of Caldwell and both Meadows buildings are co-ed by wing, with each wing having its own bathroom. Caldwell Hall is suite style, meaning two rooms share a common bathroom for the four occupants and each floor on Caldwell is co-ed. The Meadows North and Meadows South apartment complexes feature four-bedroom apartments.

Modern-styled dormitories
Modern-styled dormitories

Some residence halls have a Living/Learning Community, where an entire floor is composed of a certain group of students. Examples include Agriculture and Biology Majors, Honors College, Engineering/ Learning Community, Health Professionals Living/Learning Community and Substance-Free housing.

Ben Reifel Hall, Hyde, Theodore Schultz Hall and the Honors Hall (collectively, the Jackrabbit Grove) opened in the fall of 2013. Schultz Hall is home of the Wellness Living/Learning Community and the Honors Hall, as the name suggests, is home to the Honors College. They are similar in amenities to the Jackrabbit Village halls (Spencer, Thorne and Abbott).

The most recent addition to the dormitories was the Southeast University Neighborhood, located on the corner of 8th Street and 16th Avenue. These buildings are intended for juniors, seniors and graduate students, and are thus more similar to regular apartments, with full kitchens, furniture, and summer storage, even a Starbucks attached.[31] Nearby are the Townhouses, which are similar to the Neighborhood apartments, but also allow pets and do not require meal plans.[32]

Greek societies

This list contains only social fraternities that are a part of either the Interfraternity Council or the College Panhellenic Association.[9] Other fraternities and sororities exist as general student organizations.

Student life

The SDSU Marching Band, "The Pride of the Dakotas", given the special name the Millennium Band in 2000 by the South Dakota State Legislature, has marched in the 1981 and 1997 Presidential Inaugural Parades in Washington, D.C.; A Capital Fourth in 2000 in Washington, D.C., which was broadcast on PBS; the 2003 and 2008 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, making them the second collegiate band in the history of the Rose Bowl to be invited to march twice when their team was not competing; and the Korean War Monument Dedication at the state's capital Pierre in 2004, in the company of two other college bands and 60-some high school bands from across the state. The homecoming celebration, Hobo Day, is "The Biggest One-Day Event in the Dakotas."[33]


Main article: South Dakota State Jackrabbits

SDSU participates in athletics as a member of NCAA Division I. SDSU's athletic conference affiliations include the Summit League for most sports, the Missouri Valley Football Conference (Division I FCS), the Big 12 Conference (wrestling) and Varsity Equestrian. The Jackrabbits have 19 varsity sports and numerous intramural and club teams. South Dakota State's athletic mascot for both the men's and women's teams is the Jackrabbit, both the men's and women's sports teams are officially referred to as the Jackrabbits.

Men's basketball

Frost Arena, the venerable home of South Dakota State basketball
Frost Arena, the venerable home of South Dakota State basketball

Main article: South Dakota State Jackrabbits men's basketball

Division II national champions in 1963, the Jackrabbits have had one of the most successful mid-major programs in the nation since joining the ranks of Division I. SDSU has won at least a share of the Summit League regular season title in seven of the past nine seasons, including each of the last four. The Jackrabbits have won five conference tournaments, qualifying for the NCAA Division I Tournament in 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018. During that run, two all-Americans have shined for the Jackrabbits – Nate Wolters and Mike Daum. Additionally, Wolters is one of seven State alums who have been selected in the NBA Draft. Since 2012, no Division I men's basketball program has won a greater percentage of its home games than South Dakota State.

Women's basketball

Main article: South Dakota State Jackrabbits women's basketball

Head coach Aaron Johnston took over the program at the beginning of the new century and women's basketball at SDSU was never the same. The Jackrabbits reached the NCAA Elite Eight in each of their final three seasons in Division II, winning the national championship in 2003. After becoming the first school transitioning to Division I to earn a postseason bid, playing in the WNIT in both 2007 and 2008, SDSU turned its focus to dominating the Summit League. The Jacks have won nine of the 13 conference tournaments they have played in. The program has played in ten NCAA Division I Tournaments, winning four games, highlighted by a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in 2018. The program also won first-round games in 2009 and 2015. Macy Miller led the program to three of those four victories en route to becoming the school's all-time scoring leader. She was selected in the second round of the 2018 WNBA Draft.

Men's football

Main article: South Dakota State Jackrabbits football

The Jackrabbits have appeared in the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs 10 times with an overall record of 11–9. They were in the Championship game May 20, 2021, losing 23–21 to Sam Houston State. The Jackrabbits were semifinalists in 2017, 2018, and 2021. SDSU is one of two schools with an active streak of nine consecutive postseason appearances at the FCS level. All of this was accomplished by John Stiegelmeier, the school's winningest head coach, after the program managed only one Division II playoff appearance (1979). Zach Zenner became the first Division I football player to record three consecutive seasons of 2,000 rushing yards (2012–14). The program's national standing persuaded ESPN's College Gameday television show to come to the Brookings campus for a live broadcast of its show on October 26, 2019.

Dana Dykhouse buildings and facilities

Main article: Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium

Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium

A 19,340-capacity stadium opened in the fall of 2016. It is considered among the premier FCS Division I stadiums.

The Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center, located on the north end of the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, is the home of Jackrabbit football, It opened prior to the 2010 football season and houses an academic center equipped with study areas, computers, tutors and other educational aids for all South Dakota State teams. The Sanford Jackrabbit Athlete Complex, a state-of-the-art indoor practice and competition facility opened October 11, 2014. It is immediately north of and attached to the Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center. The SJAC has bleacher seating for up to 1,000 spectators and can be used for track practice and track meets, football practice, softball and baseball practice, golf practice and other events within the SDSU athletic department. It includes 149,284-square foot facility and features an eight-lane, 300-meter track, one of only five collegiate indoor tracks of that size in the nation.

Notable alumni

Main article: List of South Dakota State University people

South Dakota State University has produced a number of the current members of South Dakota's state government and in Congress, including Kristi Noem, the state's first female governor and a former U.S. representative.a, and current U.S. Senator Mike Rounds. Members of the South Dakota Supreme Court, former Chief Justice David Gilbertson and current Associate Justice Mark Salter, attended the university for their undergraduate degrees. David Gilbertson was the longest serving state Supreme Court chief justice, serving 19 years until retiring in 2021.[34]

In the federal cabinet, Stephen Censky, former United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, and in federal foreign service, former Governor of South Dakota Dick Kneip served as United States Ambassador to Singapore. Among alumni who are political figures are seven members of Congress, most notably Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Tom Daschle and first Lakota American Indian member of Congress Ben Reifel. Alumni of South Dakota State have occupied top positions in Wall Street and the rest of the business world, including CEO of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Nizar Al-Adsani. In science and technology, alumni include IBM 360 inventor Gene Amdahl, "father of Amdahl's law", and Nobel laureate Theodore Schultz, "father of Human Capital Theory."

Academia, science, and technology[edit]

Arts and literature[edit]






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