Founding – 1872

On June 5, 1872, pastors and delegates from nine Baptist churches in the Dakota Territory met in Vermillion for the first meeting of the Baptist Association. They adopted the following resolution: "Be it resolved that we take immediate steps for the establishment of an institution among us and that we devote a suitable portion of time at each annual meeting to the consideration of this important subject and give our individual and associated influence to encourage a more general and complete education of our youth under distinctively Christian influence."

Modest Beginnings – 1883

Dakota Hall in 1885.

Under the name Dakota Collegiate Institute, secondary and collegiate programs began on September 8, 1883, in the basement of First Baptist Church. The institution's name changed to Sioux Falls University in 1885, with the secondary program called the Academy and the collegiate department branded Sioux Falls College. Although the college grew, the Academy's enrollment declined, forcing it to close in 1925.

Colleges Acquired – 1930s

Historical photo of Jorden Hall in winter.

Between 1929 and 1931, Sioux Falls College acquired four Baptist schools that had ceased to operate: Des Moines University, Grand Island College, Cedar Valley Seminary and Parker College. With the 1931 merger of Grand Island College with what was still legally Sioux Falls University, the institution's official name became Sioux Falls College.

WWII – The Lean Years

Female students in front of Glidden Hall in the 1920's.

During the Second World War, the College lost its accreditation and offered 200 students, mainly women, two-year degrees. Enrollment surged when the veterans returned home, only to lapse to meager numbers two years later. Financially, the school was in dire straits. However, not unlike the young men and women who served our nation during WWII, ordinary people accomplished extraordinary things during those lean years to ensure the institution's survival.

President Jeschke – Years of Growth

President Jeschke in 1953.

Reuben P. Jeschke (1953-1970) helped regain full, regional accreditation in 1958, and under his leadership enrollment grew from 378 in 1958 to 1,006 in 1968 – a 166 percent increase. The institution's endowment, although modest, also grew, and what Jeschke described as a "near miracle" happened – a history of balanced budgets.

The most visible change during this time was the campus. Jeschke oversaw the building of Mears Library, Salsbury Student Union, Salsbury Science Center, Jeschke Fine Arts Center, and three residence halls. In fact, Time magazine featured the College's growth in 1967. The caption read: "Seven Buildings in Seven Years." The sub-title added: "But our stature comes from people." By the end of Jeschke's tenure, Sioux Falls College was well-positioned for the steady, academic success of the 70s and 80s.

Naming the Future – SFC to USF

USF's Cleveland Center in spring.

The 90s ushered in a new era of excellence. In order to better reflect the Board of Trustees' desire to "name the future," one with growth in student body, expansion of academic programs, improvement in facilities and enhancement of the institution's reputation, Sioux Falls College became the University of Sioux Falls, effective January 1995.

A USF for the 21st Century

President Mark Benedetto.

Dr. Mark Benedetto, USF's longest-serving president, became the 22nd president in February 1997. Under his leadership, the University's enrollment in both the traditional and non-traditional programs has increased significantly, while the number of full-time faculty has more than doubled. Several academic programs have been added to the curriculum. Every building on campus has experienced some form of renovation, with the most notable expansion being the University's purchase of approximately 100 acres of land near 69th Street and Cliff Avenue. New campus construction projects have included the Cleveland Professional Development Center, Collier Baker Hall, Sullivan Faith and Living Center, McDonald Center, USF Sports Complex and new additions to the Stewart Center and Salsbury Science Center. During Dr. Benedetto's tenure, the University successfully navigated several institutional accreditation reviews, major fundraising campaigns and the transition of its athletic programs from the NAIA to the NCAA Division II and five-state, 16-team Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Today, USF provides more academic and performance scholarships to students than ever before.

Dr. Brett Bradfield named President

President Brett Bradfield

Following Dr. Benedetto’s retirement, a proven and innovative leader in Christian higher education and a familiar figure at University of Sioux Falls was selected to lead the University into the future. Dr. Brett Bradfield became president of the University in February 2017. With strength of vision as a distinctively Christian institution, the University confidently continues to help students grow as they gain the necessary technical and critical thinking skills for today’s careers. The school’s long-time guiding motto, “Culture for Service” remains a centerpiece in the institution’s purpose.

View a chronology of notable University of Sioux Falls events.

1872

First resolution of Baptist Association is adopted, providing for "...more general and complete education of our youth under distinctively Christian influence."

1883

Under the name Dakota Collegiate Institute, secondary and collegiate programs begin in the basement of the Sioux Falls First Baptist Church.

Campus site is selected along the Old Yankton Trail.

1885

Name changes to Sioux Falls University.

Evan B. Meredith is 1st president.

Dakota Hall (renamed Meredith Hall in 1929), the campus' first building, is built for $16,000.

1890

Student newspaper, The Stylus, reports, "The football team will be ready to begin work as soon as they get a ball."

1895

Edward B. McKay is 2nd president. 

1897

Alfred B. Price is 3rd president. 

1898

A. Wellington Norton is 4th president.

1900

Tuition is $9.00 per semester. 

1903

Alfred J. Finch is 5th president. 

1904

Pearl Irene Odell is the first four-year college graduate, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Edward F. Jorden is 6th president. 

1908

25th anniversary is celebrated.

Jorden Hall is built. 

1910

First Student Association is formed and includes: athletics, debate, oratory and student newspaper.

1915

Rolvix Harlan is 7th president. 

1916

First major fundraising effort to include Sioux Falls is launched. The city ends up donating $50,000. 

1917

The first glee clubs for men and women are established. 

1918

Donald F. Charles is 8th president.

Female students petition for a credit course in physical training, and by 1923 the physical education department is established. 

1920

V.C. Coulter is 9th president.

1921

Purple Feather tradition begins.

First homecoming, called Bum Days, is held. 

1922

Fred G. Boughton is 10th president.

Second homecoming, called Soo Boo Day, is held.

1923

Pierce Gym (now Pierce Hall) is built, allowing basketball to move out of the chapel. Although dances are not allowed on campus, roller skating in Pierce Gym is a popular form of entertainment.

Homecoming tradition of Teepee Day begins. Professors Max Martini and Laurence Nelson want to preserve the history of the campus' land that was once inhabited by the Sioux and other Native American tribes. A contest is held and the name Braves is selected as the school's mascot. The Teepee Day tradition will continue for 53 years.

1925

Academy for secondary education closes. 

1926

Joseph A. Cooper is 11th president.

1929

Des Moines University of Iowa closes and its records are transferred to Sioux Falls University.

Glidden-Martin Memorial Hall is built. 

1930

Charles R. Sattgast is 12th president.

Cedar Valley Seminary of Iowa closes and its records are transferred to Sioux Falls University.

1931

Parker College of Winnebago, Minn., closes and its records are transferred to Sioux Falls University.

Grand Island College of Nebraska merges with Sioux Falls University and forms a new corporation, Sioux Falls College.

SFC receives North Central Association of Colleges (NCAC) accreditation as a two-year college.

1933

50th anniversary is celebrated.

American Baptist State Conventions of North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota pass a resolution officially recognizing the college as a denominational institution.

SFC receives full, four-year college-status accreditation by the NCAC.

1937

Warren P. Behan is 13th president.

Due to drought and depression, SFC drops to junior college status.

1941

Barret Lowe is 14th president. 

1943

John L. Barton is 15th president. 

1944

Ernest E. Smith is 16th president. 

1947

An old army barracks is attained from the Sioux Falls air base and is used to house 40 male students. 

1948

Another army barracks is secured and used as a chapel. It is named Memorial Chapel in honor of the 273 alumni who fought in WW II, in particular the 16 who lost their lives. 

1950

Evan A. Reiff is 17th president. 

1953

After the football team lost 28 consecutive games in four years, Coach Phillip Tinsworth vowed that he would stand on his head at the corner of 10th and Phillips Avenue if his team won a game. Finally, on Teepee Day in 1953, the Braves beat the Trojans of General Beadle College (now Dakota State) 13-0, and Coach Tinsworth kept his promise.

In December 1953, Dr. Reuben Jeschke, who was currently dean and interim president, became the 18th president of SFC. By January 1954, the campaign goal to raise $200,000, liquidate all debt and balance the budget was accomplished, and an era of growth and prosperity began.

1958

75th anniversary is celebrated.

Full, four-year accreditation is regained, granted by the NCAC.

1959

John W. Kroske Hall is built. 

1963

Grand Island Hall is built.

Salsbury Student Union is built. 

1964

First Madrigal Dinner is held with Dr. and Mrs. Reuben Jeschke serving as Lord and Lady. 

1965

Norman B. Mears Library is built.

SFC singing group performs at the World's Fair. 

1966

Warren W. Burgess Residence for Men is built.

First of many European tours for SFC music groups takes place. 

1967

Joseph E. Salsbury Science Center is built.

Sioux Falls College is featured in Time magazine. The caption reads: "Seven Buildings in Seven Years." The subtitle adds: "But our stature comes from people."

The value of the campus increases from $580,000 in 1953 to $5.5 million by 1970. 

1970

Ronald V. Wells is 19th president. 

1971

Reuben P. Jeschke Fine Arts Center is built and is (at that time) the largest auditorium in South Dakota. 

1974

Owen P. Halleen is 20th president. 

1978

Patterson Hall is built. 

1979

Braves mascot is changed to Cougars. 

1980

Masters in Education program begins. 

1987

Degree Completion Program is established for working adults who want to complete their college degrees. 

1988

Thomas F. Johnson is 21st president.

1993

Masters in Business Administration program begins. 

1995

Sioux Falls College becomes the University of Sioux Falls. 

1996

USF Cougars win NAIA National Football Championship. 

1997

Mark S. Benedetto is 22nd president. 

2000

Tuition is $6,050 per semester. 

2001

Cleveland Professional Development Center is built.

Mary Collier Baker Hall is built.

2002

USF Foundation is established with the mission to secure the University's future.

2005

Bill & Marian Sullivan Faith & Living Center is built.

2006

USF Cougars win NAIA National Football Championship.

2007

McDonald Center is built.USF Sports Complex is built, where Cougars play

USF Sports Complex is built, where Cougars play first home football game at Bob Young Field.

2008

125th anniversary is celebrated.

2009

USF School of Nursing founded. 

2011

USF SculptureWalk dedicated

2012

USF became an official member of the NCAA D-II.

2013

Largest graduating class in the University's history.

Graduated the first class of traditional four year track Bachelor of Science in Nursing students.

2014

2016

2017

Officially named property at 69th Street and Cliff Avenue USF South Campus.

Benedetto Hall construction begins.

Dr. Brett Bradfield named 23rd president.