The land-grant mission and our future

Dear Alumni & Friends,

It has been just over a year since I began my tenure as president of this extraordinary university, and what a whirlwind it has been! In the last 12 months, I have attended hundreds of events 20160825_sdsu_634including formal meetings, conferences and dinners, as well as informal picnics, football games and concerts. I am grateful for these varied occasions as they afforded me the opportunity to meet you and to hear your remarkable and inspiring stories.

Our encounters indicate you are representing your alma mater with pride and enthusiasm. Whether you graduated a half-century ago or last month, I witness you embracing opportunities to associate with SDSU and building relationships with others loyal to Jackrabbit Nation.

Our recent spring commencement exercises were of particular significance to me. At each of the three ceremonies, I looked out at a sea of graduates and was struck by the gravity of the moment. Those 2,000 men and women donning gowns and mortar boards could not have been more diverse: they were from near and far, they had contributed to SDSU in distinct and essential ways, and they had lives that might never again intersect. For just a bit, though, they were united in Frost Arena as South Dakota State University’s Class of 2017.

No doubt many of you in attendance on that first Saturday in May were there to watch your own children take the same journey you took decades ago. They, like you, crossed the stage to accept both a diploma and congratulations from the school’s president.

As I shook the graduates’ hands, I was acutely aware of my new connection to them: our shared status as alumni and the pride we have in wearing the Yellow and Blue. Regardless of where you find yourself now, you likely feel a connection to the university—a connection that transcends time and place.

I encourage you to channel those powerful feelings into actions. Be an ambassador. Tell SDSU’s story as you know it and lived it. Encourage those seeking higher education to thoughtfully consider South Dakota State University so they, like the distinguished members of the Class of 2017, can share our unique and special status as Jackrabbit Alumni.


Barry H. Dunn
President, South Dakota State University

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