American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Chapter Spotlight: History of the South Dakota Chapter of American College of Surgeons

The South Dakota Chapter of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) recently celebrated its 64-year anniversary at our combined South Dakota/North Dakota meeting in Watertown, SD, April 21–23, 2016. To give this event historical perspective, we came into existence the same year Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the English throne on the death of her father, King George VI. Also, the first Corvette rolled off the assembly line in Flint, MI!

In 1951, Earl Pittenger, MD, FACS, a general surgeon from Aberdeen, SD, returned from the ACS annual meeting convinced that a South Dakota chapter should be formed. In March of 1952, an informal meeting of the South Dakota Fellows was held at the Cataract Hotel in Sioux Falls, and the chapter was incorporated. The first annual chapter meeting was held in Huron, SD, on January 17, 1953. Huron was chosen because of its “central location, good roads, and hotel accommodations.” The early meetings were held in the winter, but the College felt spring meetings were more favorable to attend. Even with this change, an occasional late spring snow storm has led to some disruption of our annual meeting.

Selected highlights of the chapter’s history include:

  • 1959 – First donation to the South Dakota Medical School Endowment Fund, which has continued to 2016
  • 1960 – Three-member Executive Committee formed
  • 1967 – Continuing Medical Education Credits given for attendance
  • 1972 – Meeting held in the president’s home town
  • 1975 – Trauma fellow and cancer fellow added to chapter council
  • 1984 – Incorporation with the state of South Dakota as a not-for-profit entity
  • 1987 – Hiring of an executive secretary (We have been fortunate to have two wonderful secretaries, Jan Anderson (1987–2000) and Terry Marks (2000–2016), who have been invaluable to our success.)
  • 2000 – Combined South Dakota/North Dakota annual chapter meetings (combining the meetings has enhanced our annual meetings and worked to the mutual benefit of both chapters)
  • 2002 – 50th annual meeting
  • 2012 – 60th annual meeting

Our chapter meetings have been held across South and North Dakota. Our chapter presidents have come from communities large and small. Although most chapter presidents have been general surgeons, many others specialties are well represented.

One of the unique features of our chapter is the number of children who have returned to the state and followed in their fathers’ footsteps both as surgeons and Fellows of the College and chapter.

Over the years, a number of known guest speakers have visited our chapter. The ACS has been well represented at our chapter meetings, including Governors, members of the Board of Regents, Executive Staff, Directors, and, most recently, J. David Richardson, MD, FACS, President of the ACS, who represented the College at our Watertown meeting.

Currently, there are 167 Fellows of the College in South Dakota, and 124 (74 percent) are members of the South Dakota Chapter. The annual meeting has changed over the years but remains the focal point of our chapter. Moving forward, the major challenges of our chapter focus is recruitment of new members.

Please join us at our next combined meeting in Fargo, ND, April 28–29, 2017. See you there!