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Howard Perry is BHSU distinguished faculty recipient

Veteran business-education teacher Howard Perry is this year's recipient of the Black Hills State University distinguished faculty award.

From Monroe rotary calculators to keypunch card extractors to computerized classrooms, Perry has seen business education evolve through more than four decades of changes.

A survivor of new curriculums and advances in technology, he believes “in teaching you have to be flexible and willing to change. It's been a fun 43 years. It has really been interesting.”

Of all the classes he has taught over the years, COBOL, beginning computer classes and business law were the courses he most enjoyed. He has taught everything from typing and shorthand to office practice and program languages. There aren't many business-education courses he hasn't taught at one time or another.

The BH professor said the biggest change in business education has come as result of the movement to a more specialized curriculum from the all inclusive general curriculum of years past.

“In the past you got a smattering of business course work, but now students specialize in management, marketing or accounting.” He noted too that “qualifications for teachers at Black Hills are also more specific and professional than in the past.”

He envisions big changes in the future with development of the electronic classrooms, distance education, and the ability of students to get information and expertise from anywhere in the world.

An enthusiastic teacher in the classroom, his eagerness to get things done spilled over to other areas of involvement. He was advisor of the computer club, advisor of the Circle K Club, member of the graduate council and the university's faculty athletic representative, a responsibility he has assumed for more than 20 years. In fact, ten years ago he designed the NAIA eligibility transfer form that is still being used today. He also served as president of the BHSU Council of Higher Education (COHE) and was membership chairman of the South Dakota Business and Office Education Association as well as holding memberships and offices in many professional business organizations.

His greatest thrill as a teacher is seeing his former students successfully competing in the business world as managers and teachers.

“The satisfaction comes in the long run, seeing your students in positions of management and being productive citizens. In class, you hoped they were understanding the concepts being taught,” he said.

Reaching out to the community, he was president of the Spearfish school board, president of the local Toastmaster organization, president of the Black Hills Special Services Cooperative, president of the Kiwanis, president of the state's business education association, president of the Spearfish Pathways Association, treasurer of the Lutheran Church, and member of the South Dakota Retirement and Insurance Board, to name a few.

This involvement and commitment to students as well as to the community were traits that colleagues unanimously cited as admirable in their letters nominating him for the distinguished faculty award.

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From manual typewriters to microcomputers, Howard Perry, this year's BHSU distinguished faculty award winner, has spent the past 43 years teaching students the proper procedures in developing professional-looking documents. He recently introduced his students to data base concepts and spent most of the class hour moving about the room pointing out details in setting up the program. Perry began his teaching career at Northwestern High School at Mellette before moving on to Bowdle and Lemmon. He joined the BH business faculty in 1965 and completed his Ph.D. from the University of Northern Colorado in 1977. He will retire from teaching June 30.

To summarize, Judy Larson, BHSU career services director, said, “Dr. Perry's style, professionally and personally, is simple, uncomplicated yet diplomatic, meaningful and valuable. He was often quoted as saying, `Why re-invent the wheel. Let's be flexible and adapt the idea to what is needed and can be used!'”

“This statement, often spoken by this nominee, evidences the practicality and resourcefulness I have found to be a treasured characteristic of Dr. Perry. ... I have witnessed ... that when he accepts a responsibility, he carries out its mission with completeness and in the best interest of all. He does his share and more,” said Larson.

Looking back Perry was unsure how he balanced all these activities and maintained a normal family life. The evidence is in a successful marriage of 38 years and raising three successful daughters, two of whom graduated from BHSU. One daughter is teaching school, another daughter earned a Ph.D. in chemistry, and the youngest daughter is completing doctoral studies in exercise physiology at the University of Nebraska.

His wife, Elaine, who is a librarian at Grace Balloch Memorial Library, will be joining him in retirement this summer. She will be checking in her last books after 25 years, and he will be filling out his final grade sheets June 30. They plan to travel some and spend time with their family and friends. However, you can be sure they will continue to be involved by volunteering their time and talents to the community in some way.