Explaining the college’s concise mission statement

As the College of Arts and Sciences is the academic heart of South Dakota State University. Our programs span the natural sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities.Papini-feature

Our college has a two-fold mission. First, we deliver most of the courses that provide all SDSU students with the general educational knowledge, skills, and competencies needed for success in their chosen fields. They are prepared for lifelong learning and capable of participating in a democracy. Second, we offer an array of majors and minors that provide students with collaborative and innovative skills needed to meet the challenges of a dynamic world economy.

As you can see, describing the role and mission of the College of Arts and Sciences at South Dakota State University takes some time and a lot of words. We needed a more concise way of expressing what the College of Arts and Sciences brings to the academic table.


As part of the process of developing a strategic plan for the college, we wanted to distill the mission statement into as few words as possible. After weeks of discussion, we adopted: Passion. Discovery. Opportunity.

To verify that the slogan reflected the qualities we intended, we conducted focus groups with high school students. We asked them to tell us what these three words mean.

The students defined passion as following your heart. Spot on! One of the goals the college has is helping young people explore and commit to those interests, values, and ideals that are so important to them in their life’s work.

The students defined discovery as creating something new. Exactly! Another of our goals is to provide students with the knowledge, tools, and support needed for greater understanding of both themselves and the world around them.

High school students said opportunity is changing your life. Three for three! The College of Arts and Sciences prepares students to take advantage of opportunities that come up during their lifetime rather than restricting them to narrowly defined career paths.

If we help students identify their passion and provide them with the intellectual tools to engage in discovery , they will be ready for opportunities that arise in our increasingly dynamic and global economy.


As you scroll through these pages, you will see why our students, alumni, faculty and staff say we prepare students to become civic and corporate leaders, educators, researchers, performers and scientists.

This issue of Transformations features stories that illustrate our slogan—Passion. Discovery. Opportunity. Moreover, the stories reveal how the slogan is experienced and lived between the faculty and the students they serve. Stories about experiential learning at Wingsprings, the launching of a new School of Design, STEM Outreach, and classroom enhancement all speak and revolve around Passion. Discovery. Opportunity.

If our slogan speaks to you and your own experiences with the College of Arts and Sciences at South Dakota State University, please write and tell us your story. (sdsu.artsci@sdstate.edu) I plan to include a sampling of these stories in the next edition of Transformations—and all stories submitted will be posted on the Transformations website—http://artsci.sdstateconnect.org/

Dennis Papini

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