SIOUX FALLS, S.D. ― Barry Dunn, the dean of South Dakota State University’s College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, was named the school’s 20th president on Monday.
Kathryn Johnson, the South Dakota Board of Regents member who chaired the presidential search committee, said Dunn is a tested and consistently successful leader with a relevant vision for SDSU that’s bolstered by his many contacts.
“We know that he’s already got in place, starting today, that strong team committed to a common purpose of forwarding SDSU,” Johnson said during a news conference at the Brookings university.
Dunn is set to replace David Chicoine, who became president in 2007 and announced in December he would step down to teach in the university’s economics department.
Dunn, a Todd County rancher, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from South Dakota State in 1975. He first worked in Brookings as an SDSU Extension livestock specialist and assistant professor in the animal and range science department.
He returned to SDSU in 2010 after spending six years at Texas A&M University-Kingsville as executive director of the King Ranch Institute for Range Management. In his current position, he administers a $78 million annual budget that includes more than $20 million in grant and contract awards, along with fundraising and development.
“I understand this university’s wonderful historic past, and I can see its rich potential,” he said.
Dunn said South Dakota State’s status as a land-grant institution is significant to him and his family. His mother, Sarah Lamoureaux Dunn, was born on the Rosebud Indian Reservation but got the opportunity to seek higher education during the depression through another land-grant institution, Iowa State University. Her success story led Dunn to SDSU, he said, which provided him and others in the state with the opportunity to become professionals and make discoveries in such fields as science and engineering.
“It opened up the doors to the common men and women to achieve great things in their lives,” he said.
Dunn said he’ll recommit South Dakota State to address such critical issues as sustainable economic growth and prosperity, agricultural productivity and food production, population health, the stewardship of natural resources and healthy communities. The arts and humanities also hold critical roles in shaping lives, he added.
Dunn said he also wants to make sure education is open to everyone.
“I think the challenge we face is keeping higher education affordable and accessible to new audiences,” he said.
The other finalists for the position were Auburn University vice president John Mason Jr., University of Arkansas vice provost James Rankin and University of Arkansas at Little Rock executive vice chancellor and provost Zulma Toro. The four finalists had meetings with constituents and regents last week.
The state Board of Regents has said the largest fundraising campaign for education in state history was completed during Chicoine’s tenure, and research activity experienced significant growth under his leadership. Chicoine also oversaw the completion of the school’s transition to Division I athletics.