VERMILLION — The University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine is celebrating a monumental occasion this year: its 50th anniversary of becoming an institution granting four-year medical degrees.
Since 1907, the USD School of Medicine has provided high-quality medical education and served as the only school of medicine in South Dakota.
During its first 67 years of existence, the USD medical school granted two-year degrees, necessitating that medical students transfer elsewhere to finish an M.D. degree. USD became a four-year, M.D.-degree granting institution in 1974, after then-Senator (later Governor) Harvey Wollman and Medical School Dean Dr. Karl Wegner rallied the state of South Dakota to garner a unanimous legislative vote to approve the transition. In 1977, the medical school graduated its first class of 39 physicians.
In those 50 years, the School of Medicine has conferred thousands of medical degrees and touched every corner of South Dakota through health care, research and education.
“We are extremely proud of the medical school’s accomplishments from the past 50 years, but we are also incredibly grateful to our past leaders who had the vision and perseverance to make this school as impactful as it is today,” said Dr. Tim Ridgway, the 15th dean of the USD medical school. “We would not be able to effect change in health care as we do today without the leadership and innovation of those individuals decades ago.”
In five decades, the School of Medicine has achieved prestigious honors and made significant impacts.