Attorney, Rapid City, Spearfish & Sioux Falls
909 Saint Joseph Street
P.O. Box 8250
Rapid City, SD 57709
Sam Kerr has been practicing law for over 24 years. His legal practice began as an associate attorney at Wallahan & Eicher in Rapid City. That firm merged with Banks, Johnson, Colbath & Kerr, Prof. LLC, in 1995 where Sam served as a litigation attorney and managing partner. While at the Banks, Johnson law firm, Sam concentrated his practice on employment and labor law, education law, administrative law, business law, insurance defense, and litigation. He served as a Special Assistant Attorney General for South Dakota Department of Transportation for several years. In addition, he represented several higher education institutions in various matters, including U.S. Department of Education Title IV and Title IX Issues, Title VII, contracts, trademark, and employment practices matters.
Sam left private practice in 2001 to serve as General Counsel and Vice President for Human Resources at National American University (NAU) in Rapid City. He then served as General Counsel and System Vice President for Administration at NAU until 2008, when he was promoted to Provost and General Counsel.
As General Counsel, Sam handled a wide variety of legal matters, including employment practices issues, business transactions, compliance issues, governmental and regulatory affairs, real property, contracts, and accreditation.
Sam has worked with elected public officials and their staffs on legislative matters, including drafting and introducing legislation. He has a keen understanding of how legal and regulatory issues translate into the practical functioning of a company. For example, when the U.S. Department of Education enacted regulations that established new requirements for postsecondary institutions to be eligible for federal student financial aid programs, Sam initiated the creation of, and successfully led, a coalition of diverse South Dakota colleges and universities to effectuate a change in the state’s postsecondary education laws to conform to the new federal mandate.
He was promoted to NAU’s Chief Operating Officer in 2013 with executive leadership responsibility for day-to-day university academic and operational matters. In this role, he also provided leadership for all strategic and operational planning activities for the university. In addition, Sam was the secretary to the university’s Board of Directors and Board of Governors.
Sam also later became the COO, General Counsel, and Secretary of the publicly traded parent company for NAU in 2009. In that regard, he has experience with a wide range of corporate matters, including state, SEC, and NASDAQ issues.
During his years of service at NAU, he served as a member of the university faculty, teaching labor law, employment law, and human resources management at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He also taught high school English and journalism for six years.
For a number of years, Sam has provided consulting services to education institutions across the country, focusing on matters relating to accreditation, compliance, governance, curriculum development, employment practices, academic program review, assessment of student learning, and strategic and operational planning. He previously served as a private school board president for six years.
Selected publications and presentations:
- Presentation: Kerr, S., and Martin E. (April 2017). Change of Control, Structure or Organization: What It Is and Why You Should Care, The Higher Learning Commission, Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
- Presentation: Kerr, S., Shape, R., and Zook, L. (April 2017). Planning a Successful Teach Out, The Higher Learning Commission, Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
- Presentation: Kerr, S., Murphy, S., and Wendler, D. (March 2017). Reaching Consensus During Team Deliberations, The Higher Learning Commission, Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
- Panelist: (February 2017). Title IX: Emerging Trends in Investigations, Speech, and Judicial Actions, South Dakota Higher Education Association, Annual Conference, Sioux Falls, SD.
- Kerr, S. (December 2016). South Dakota Occupational Growth Outlook. South Dakota Employment Law Newsletter, Vol. 21 (No. 11).
- Kerr, S. (November 2016). Does Your Organization Suffer from Hiring Snooze? South Dakota Employment Law Letter, Vol. 21 (No. 10).
- Kerr, S., Solomon, K., and Wendler, D. (April 2016). Reaching Consensus During Team Deliberations, The Higher Learning Commission, Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
- Presentation: Kerr, S., Roueche, J., Mathis, M., and Johnson, A. (April 2014). Facing the Future: Preparing for Unforeseen Challenges and Emergencies, The Higher Learning Commission, Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
- Presentation: Kerr, S. and Borland, J. (April 2014). Perspectives on Eligibility Process from Experienced Reviewers, The Higher Learning Commission, Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
- Presentation: Kerr, S., Roueche, J., Mathis, M., and Thornton, J. (April 2013). Can Colleges Survive Current Challenges: New Leadership Needed, The Higher Learning Commission, Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
- Presentation: Kerr, S. and Borland, J. (April 2013). Perspectives on Eligibility Process from Experienced Reviewers, The Higher Learning Commission, Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
- Presentation: Kerr, S. and Roueche, J. (April 2012). Challenges Facing Higher Education, The Higher Learning Commission, Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
- Presentation: Kerr, S. and Sedlacek, P. (April 2008). How To Eat an Elephant: Practical Tools for Conquering the Self-Study Process, The Higher Learning Commission, Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
- Presentation: Kerr, S. (March 2005). FERPA: Managing the Privacy of Student Records, South Dakota Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Spearfish, South Dakota.
- University of South Dakota, EdD, Education Administration, 2001
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Law, J.D., 1992
- South Dakota State University, M.Ed., Education Administration, 1986
- Black Hills State University, B.S.Ed., Secondary Education, 1982
- Black Hills State University, B.S., English/History, 1982
- 1992, South Dakota
- 1992, United States District Court for the District of South Dakota
Honors, Awards, Presentations
- Martindale-Hubbell’s “AV” Rated Lawyer
- Best Lawyers in America® (2018):
- Education Law
- Higher Learning Commission Advanced Accreditation Certificate in Peer Review (2015)
- Phi Delta Kappa
- Numerous presentations and training sessions for the Higher Learning Commission (2008-2016)
- Richard Thompson Leadership Award (2007)
- Captain, U.S. Army National Guard (1982-1993)
- Graduate and undergraduate faculty member teaching Labor Law, Employment Law, and Human Resources Management
- High School English/Journalism Teacher
- Chair, Education Law Committee, South Dakota Bar Association
- ASBSD Counsel of School Attorneys (COSA)
- Committee Member, Labor and Employment Law Committee, South Dakota Bar Association
- Committee Member, Employment Rights and Responsibilities Committee, Labor and Employment Law Section, American Bar Association (2016-present)
- American Bar Association
- South Dakota Bar Association
- Pennington County Bar Association