With Commencement 2011 fast approaching, it’s both timely and appropriate to take a look back at the first collegiate class (pictured above) to graduate from USD. According to Cedric Cummins’ history on USD, the first graduating seniors were three of seven students from Chicago who followed President Edward Olson west when he assumed the presidency at the university in 1887. The “Chicago Boys” (as Olson’s Chicago seven came to be known) were responsible for organizing a number of student groups that helped place the young university in the collegiate mainstream. For instance, they launched the Volante, started the first Student Association, and had a hand in bringing the Athletic Association and the YMCA to campus.
The three graduates continued to distinguish themselves after they left USD. Clarence Antisdel pursued a postgraduate degree at USD after the 1888 Commencement and was the first person to receive an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree at USD. He then spent several years in Africa as a missionary. Upon his return to the United States, Antisdel became the president of Benedict College in South Carolina. Herbert Houston, the Volante’s first editor, worked as a reporter for the Sioux City Journal for a few years and would later move on to work for the Chicago Tribune. Houston then went into advertising, moved to New York City, and became the advertising manager of The World’s Work and Country Life in America. During his time at USD, Charles Brinstad decided to become a minister. He left his postgraduate studies to become ordained in St. Paul. After several years of education and training, he eventually became the general missionary for Nebraska.
–Information gathered from the collections: The University of South Dakota by Cedric Cummins, USD Archives, and the 1903 Coyote, USD Archives. Photograph: USD Photograph Collection, Series 3