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State University Of South Dakota


PIERRE, S.D. – The first territorial legislature of Dakota located the University of Dakota at Vermillion on April 21, 1862.  

In 1881, Congress granted 72 sections of public land to Dakota Territory “for the use and support of a university when it should be admitted as a state to the Union.” The university charter was approved on February 3, 1883, and classes were held for the first time on the present campus later that same year. 

Today, the University of South Dakota (USD) is known as the state’s oldest university and is home to the state’s only medical and law schools. It is one of six universities governed by the South Dakota Board of Regents.

One of USD’s most prominent symbols is Old Main, which was built in 1883, burned down in 1889, and restored in 1997. The building currently houses the Student Action Office, University Honors Program, and Center for Academic Engagement. 

The Marks of History series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism designed to highlight historical markers all across South Dakota. Click on the special “Marks of History” link at to access the complete list of articles.

The Marks of History series is part of Goal 1 of the 2010 Initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota and Goal 4 to enhance history and arts as a tool for economic development and cultural tourism in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.


Media Notes:
Information for this release was obtained from “Brevet’s South Dakota Historical Markers”.