University of South Dakota inaugurates 18th President

VERMILLION, SD (KSFY) - The University of South Dakota has now formally installed their new President. Sheila Gestring was sworn in as the school's 18th President earlier today, replacing Jim Abbott, who retired last year after 21 years on the job.

A full house was on hand today to see the inauguration of Sheila Gestring. Students, faculty and other dignitaries watched as she took her oath all of them wondering what this new President has in mind for the school's future.

KSFY News was able to talk one on one with her late this afternoon. Gestring’s inauguration was a formality, as she took the reins from Jim Abbott last June.

She's said she is excited to now be able to hit the ground running.

"I’m really excited about the opportunity to continue on the positive path we've been on," University of South Dakota President, Sheila Gestring said.

Right out of the gate, Gestring said she wants to explore options to decrease the cost of an education at the University of South Dakota for students so that those who are financially prohibited now won't be in the future.

"You know I’m really going to put significant focus on that state needs based financial aid package I really think that's important to the future of USD more and more that financial gap is growing and students that are academically prepared are losing the opportunity to pursue a life changing education," Gestring said.

Gestring also wants to open up more leadership opportunities for woman on the USD campus and celebrating the successes of female students. It’s not lost on Gestring that the women's basketball team is now a nationally ranked team.

"I think it feels pretty great and that feels very good to be able to be a role model for future women leaders," Gestring added.

Gestring's inauguration coincides with legislative action in Pierre that would allow college students to carry weapons on campus, something that has been forbidden until now. Gestring said she doesn't support the idea.

"I would prefer not to have them on campus yes. I am opposed to senate bill 122."

She also tells KSFY News that guns around those consuming alcohol hopefully of age could be a risk along with theft. She also has a concern of mental health issues among the college aged group.

Today wrapped up a long week of celebration with special events leading up to the inauguration, including a blood drive, service projects and the USD day of giving.