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James W. Abbott Edit Profile

Communications executive

James W. Abbott, American Communications executive. Avocations: historical preservation and restoration. M C.


Abbott, James W. was born on June 12, 1948 in Sioux City, Iowa, United States. Son of James and Margie (McCoy) Abbott.


Bachelor in Political Science, University South Dakota, 1970. Juris Doctor, University South Dakota, 1974.


He became president of his alma mater on July 1, 1997. Abbott is a businessman and former politician. He represented Yankton County in the South Dakota State Legislature from 1991 to 1993.

In 1994, Abbott was the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor on the ticket with gubernatorial candidate Jim Beddow, a former president of Dakota Wesleyan University. The ticket was defeated by Republicans Bill Janklow and Carole Hillard. He was the Democratic nominee for Governor of South Dakota in 2002, but lost to Republican Mike Rounds.

Abbott also mounted an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, losing the nomination to Rick Weiland. Abbott was named president of his alma mater, the University of South Dakota, in 1997. Abbott received his bachelor's degree in 1970 and his Juris Doctor in 1974 from University of South Dakota School of Law.

In 2002, Abbott took a leave of absence from the presidency to seek to Democratic nomination for Governor of South Dakota. He was defeated in the general election by Republican Mike Rounds. After the election, Abbott returned to the presidency of the University of South Dakota.

In June 2007, Abbott took a leave of absence to donate a kidney to USD Chief diversity officer Bruce King at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The surgery was successful and Abbott returned to work two weeks later.


  • He won the Democratic primary against State Senators Ron J. Volesky and James Hutmacher.


Commissioner South Dakota House of Representatives, 1991-1992, Yankton City Commission, 1985-1988, 89-90, South Dakota Lottery Commission, 1987-1991. Chairman South Dakota Economic development Finance Authority, 1986-1989, Yankton Centennial Commission, 1987-1989, Yankton Federal Prison Camp Community Advisory Board, 1988-1990. Member marketing committee Cable television Administration and Marketing Society, 1985.

President Historic Yankton, 1978-1982. Vice president Yankton Community Concert Association, 1976. Chairman United Fund, 1976-1977.

Member South Dakota Bar Association, South Dakota Cable Association, N. Center Cable television Association.


  • Other Interests

    Historical preservation and restoration.


Married Colette Pugh. Children: Sara, Lyndsey, Nancy.

James Abbott

Margie (McCoy) Abbott

Colette Pugh

Sara Abbott

Lyndsey Abbott

Nancy Abbott