University of South Dakota Foundation

An independent, not-for-profit, South Dakota corporation, the USD Foundation is organized solely for the benefit of the University of South Dakota.  Private giving to the Foundation is essential in raising the level of excellence at USD.

Our mission is to provide resources for the University of South Dakota, in order to increase the excellence of the educational experience provided by that institution, with the overriding goal of creating the best small public university in the country.

Over the years, the Foundation has evolved from a small, local volunteer organization into a large, multi-faceted, national organization. Today the Foundation’s endowment is worth more than $155 million and President Steve Brown manages a $3.9 million annual budget and a staff of 30. The main values remain constant:  the mission to serve the university and the volunteer spirit that leads.

Founded in 1922, the University of South Dakota Endowment Association had a primary goal to serve the university by receiving and managing funds for student scholarships and loan funds. The list of its early volunteers reads like a “who’s who” list of Vermillion’s most prominent citizens including University personnel, bankers, and lawyers, many of whom still have numerous descendents in Vermillion. These endowments remained relatively small and volunteer leadership through the University managed the investments, the scholarships and their recipients until the late 1960s.

In recent years, as state support for higher education has waned and tuition increases place more financial burdens on students, the Foundation has found itself reinterpreting the old mission of service to the University. Emphasis has been placed on fundraising. Private gifts now support scholarships which assist in recruitment and retention of top-notch students. Numerous building projects have been completed entirely with private funds. Volunteer trustees are expected to contribute financially, annual giving campaigns have grown and staff emphasis has been placed on planned giving and major gifts programs. Campaign South Dakota raised an unprecedented $134 million during the late 1990s and early 2000s, and a new campaign is being planned with priorities including athletic and academic facilities, scholarship support and faculty endowments.

USD Old Main Historic Photo