Schmidt steps down as Corn Palace director, transitioning into DWU role

Corn Palace Director and Mitchell native Scott Schmidt is pictured here in 2016 in the venue's lobby. (Republic file photo)

After three years serving as the Corn Palace Director, Scott Schmidt has decided to embark on a new career path.

Schmidt, who announced his resignation Monday, will transition into a new role as a full-time assistant business professor at Dakota Wesleyan University. According to Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson, Schmidt’s final day with the city will be August 25, following the Corn Palace Festival.

“This decision is an opportunity for me to take a positive step toward my career as a college educator,” an emotional Schmidt told The Daily Republic. “I am blessed to have had this opportunity with the Corn Palace, but this new opportunity with DWU is special to me.”

While he’s been grateful for his time spent leading Mitchell’s biggest tourist attraction, Schmidt said being responsible for hosting about 120 annual events at the arena has been taxing.

With a fiance and three-month-old daughter, Schmidt said he’ll be able to be the father and future husband he strives to be.


“Time is a commodity, and time is precious, and I can’t get it back. Having lost my dad at 19, I know how precious it is," said Schmidt, referencing his late father, Jim. "My family is everything and I’m excited to have more time to be with them, while enjoying a profession I love.”

Everson said he will be missed but understands the time constraints the position had on Schmidt’s ability to spend adequate time with his family, who reside in Sioux Falls.

“I was a little surprised, but not extremely,” Everson said of Schmidt’s decision to resign. “He was a great leader, and he poured a lot of time and effort into making the Corn Palace functioning in a great way. We’re thankful for his service.”

Schmidt’s no stranger to the college classroom, having been an adjunct professor at DWU for the past two years, teaching a sports management class. After graduating from DWU in 2008, Schmidt went on to receive a master’s degree in Sports Leisure Commerce from the University of Memphis. Prior to accepting the Corn Palace position in 2016, Schmidt worked in college sports as the athletic director and men’s basketball coach at Florida National University.

“I have always loved being able to help mold and shape the minds of our young leaders of tomorrow, and the classroom is my way of being able to do that,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt will begin his full-time teaching position at DWU on Aug. 19, overlapping his last week with the Corn Palace. He struck an agreement with the city to juggle his first week of teaching while balancing his last week as the Corn Palace director. While he’s eager to begin his new career at the college he graduated from, Schmidt said he feels comfort in knowing he helped steer the Corn Palace on the right direction.

From bringing a new outdoor music festival to Mitchell in July known as the Cornstalk Music Jam, to hosting an international friendly indoor soccer game between Brazil and USA, Schmidt said he feels tremendous pride reflecting on the time he spent running the World’s Only Corn Palace.

“I feel like we’ve got the Corn Palace going in the right direction, and I’m proud to have brought some new events to the city during my time in this role,” Schmidt said. “We’ve made leaps and bounds to make this place a premier sports and entertainment venue, and I want to thank my staff for how far we’ve come. I’m going to miss them.”


Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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