VERMILLION — University of South Dakota President Sheila Gestring reminded her audience during her state of the university address on Thursday that “it only takes a second for someone’s life to die.” an exchange to the USD”.
As she finished this statement, a photo of the South Dakota Coyotes football team’s spectacular victory over the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits last year appeared on the screen. above the stage in Aalfs Auditorium, where Gestring spoke to a gathering of university faculty and staff.
The Coyotes defeated the Jackrabbits in that game when, with one second left on the clock, wide receiver Jeremiah Webb caught a 57-yard pass from Hail Mary from quarterback Carson Camp into the end zone.
This take is one of many moments that stand out, Gestring said, describing the past year as a time of learning, creating solutions, serving our communities and “coming together as Coyotes.”
His hour-long speech covered a wide range of topics, from improving enrollment and facilities to student support and academic opportunities.
At the beginning of her speech, she spoke about the direct, direct and positive impact that many SHU programs have in helping to retain and support students.
“Reflecting on the past year, two things have stood out. First, SHU has always been, and will continue to be, a leader in supporting our students – their successes in the classroom, their access to real-world opportunities, and their journey to becoming lifelong learners,” Gestring said. “Secondly, as our students develop and enter the next phase of their lives after SHU, they are incredibly prepared and ready to meet the challenges ahead. come.
“We know this through conversations with our industry partners and through conversations with our students,” she said. “This is a testament to the hard work of our dedicated faculty and staff and I want to thank each and every one of you for making SHU a special place of learning for our students.”
Thursday’s keynote topics include:
The university president spoke of a $1 million grant received by USD from the United States Department of Education, thanks to the work of Assistant Provost Lisa Bonneau.
These funds were used to create a holistic model of student success, with a particular focus on rural students.
“Through this grant-funded program, SHU will create a first-year mentoring and bridging experience,” Gestring said. “The goal is to increase enrollment and retention of our rural and underrepresented students. This program will lay the foundation for how we recruit and retain all students in the future, and I am very excited to see this vision come to fruition.
As part of this program, USD will increase its ability to participate in internships through Coyote Career Kickstart.
“This program connects SHU students to financial support and career preparation through meaningful work opportunities, alumni mentors, professional development tools, and soft skills training,” said she declared. “It also helps strengthen the region’s workforce by introducing students to employers and expanding our network of employers.
• Strengthening of international programs
There is also a stronger focus on attracting and retaining international students on the Vermillion campus, the president said.
“Our international recruitment and support efforts will now be unified and housed in the new Gallagher International Center. This will be directed by director Patrick Morrison,” Gestring said. “The Gallagher International Center centralizes the university’s international affairs, overseeing programs and resources such as study abroad, international admissions, and international student services.”
This development allows the SHU International Program to better share resources and foster a community of study among participants and international students.
“We look forward to continuing a strong tradition of serving all students interested in expanding their education through this holistic view of international programming,” she said.
• Leadership development
One of the ways SHU supports students, the president said, is by offering leadership development programs through the President’s Senior Leadership Institute.
“This unique program allows us to better connect and serve our best and brightest graduate students and provide pre-professional training to help them become leaders in our state and beyond,” said Gestring. “In this one-year program, participants learn essential skills and non-academic knowledge that will set them up for success.
“Students who participate focus on topics such as group dynamics, personal strengths, financial literacy, responsible citizenship, professional etiquette and more,” she said. “Last year, 37 students graduated from this program. This year, we are delighted to have over 75 students nominated by their faculty and staff.
Gestring noted that the university is aware that today’s students face new pressures and that their mental and emotional well-being is a major concern.
The university recently added another counselor to the SHU Student Counseling Center.
“We trained 62 new student mentors for the Question, Persuader, Refer or QPR program, an industry-leading suicide prevention program aimed at educating faculty, staff and students on the signs harbingers of suicide,” she said.
The SHU President noted that while not all mental health issues experienced by students can be completely eliminated, “we are strongly focused on identifying students who may be at risk and providing the tools they need to overcome these problems with professional assistance”.
Charlie’s Cupboard, a student-run on-campus food pantry, is in its third year of operation on the SHU campus and has served more than 3,000 students.
“It offers fresh, frozen and shelf stable foods, as well as personal care products for students in need,” Gestring said. “Now open weekly, Charlie’s Cupboard served nearly 300 students its first week and expects to average over 200 students each week for the remainder of the year.”
She noted that American English students have secured nearly $15,000 in grants for the Vermillion Food Pantry.
“I can’t express enough how proud I am of our students and their commitment to our community,” she said. “Their impact will last long into the future and as a testament to the good work I know they will perform once they are in the world.”
On a related note, Gestring announced that the university will soon be launching Charlie’s Career Closet, which is “designed to provide SHU students with new or lightly used professional attire to help them look their best and project their confidence. while working towards their career goals,” she said.
This initiative is supported by the USD Women in Philanthropy group and sponsored by the Academic and Career Planning Center in partnership with the Department of Media and Journalism.
The first clothing drive for Charlie’s Career Closet will take place this fall. The closet will open next spring.
“USD has also responded to students in need through the development of a student emergency fund,” Gestring said. “Originally launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Student Emergency Fund continues to provide much-needed support to students facing financial hardship.”
She told of a SUD student – a single mother of two – who was struggling to make ends meet. The student received a scholarship to help with daily necessities such as groceries, clothing and gas. Another first-generation student, Gestring said, received a scholarship so he wouldn’t have to find another job to help fill the void.
“Over the past two years, 59 students have received these scholarships and we have had a retention rate of nearly 85% for these students and we are extremely proud of how our Coyote community has come together to help these students. in need.
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