USD Announces Sheila Gestring as New President

May 1, 2018

Sheila Gestring is named the University of South Dakota's next president, replacing James Abbott. Gestring describes Abbott as her "mentor and friend."
Credit Jackie Hendry

After a nation-wide search, the University of South Dakota has a new president. USD's current chief financial officer Sheila Gestring takes over for outgoing President James Abbott in June. 

Chair of the presidential search committee and regent Kevin Schieffer says he's highly confident the committee picked the best candidate. He says his most consequential action as a regent was to fire Gestring from the search committee and instead encourage her to seek the position herself. During the announcement at the Sanford Coyotes Sports Center in Vermillion, Schieffer highlighted Gestring's eight years as vice president of finance and chief financial officer to the university.

"In her time here she's established USD's financial position as one of the best that we have in the system, she's developed innovative financing plans for new facilities, worked with the USD foundation to set major fundraising goals and priorities for the university," Shieffer says.

The Board of Regents unanimously accepted the search committee's recommendation.

Gestring says higher education is under increasing financial pressure, and that's one of the biggest challenges she anticipates in her new role.

"Finding ways to provide access to high-performing students that have worked very hard in high school but don't have the financial means to attend will be one of the priorities," she says.

Gestring also plans to work with law school facultyy to implement recommendations from the task force requested by Abbott last year.

Gestring's appointment as USD's 18th president is effective on June 22nd.