Volume XXVI  No. 27 • July 5, 2002

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Welcome to Black Hills State University - Top

Dianne Darling, purchasing assistant, University Support Service

Young Center serves as an evacuation site - Top

Since the first evacuation in Deadwood due to a forest fire in the area, the Black Hills State University Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center has served as an evacuation site for the South Dakota National Guard and the Red Cross.

When the Red Cross organization contacted Teri Royer, Young Center building director, last week to discuss the possibility of using the university sports and fitness center as an evacuation site, she began to make plans for that possibility. By Saturday evening that possibility became a reality as a forest fire near Deadwood forced the evacuation of the city and people came to the Young Center in need of a place to stay. 

Later in the week, Lead residents who were evacuated also were directed to the Young Center. Between 100 to 180 people have used the site for lodging each night. The evacuees are also being fed at the BHSU Pangburn Hall cafeteria. As of Thursday evening, the Grizzly Gulch Fire consumed an estimated 10,676 acres and was 60 percent contained. Officials estimate full containment by Tuesday evening, July 9.

As the evacuations have been lifted, most evacuees have checked out and returned to their homes. The National Guard expects to complete their operation by 5 p.m. Friday. The Red Cross will continue to base their headquarters from the Young Center but are transitioning service operations to Deadwood. The Young Center Red Cross hours of operation will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The contact phone number is 642-6882.

“The headquarters will remain at the Young Center at least through the weekend because this is such a great location,” Janeen Brown, Red Cross service center manager said. “We want to have service locations in Deadwood so those in need won’t have to drive so far.”

As the Young Center quickly transformed from a campus sports and fitness center to a major disaster relief center, the entire staff stepped up to do everything they could to help.  An emergency or disaster situation likes this tends to strengthen a community as members pull together. The recent forest fire and evacuation served as a force to pull together the entire community together and people have been quick to respond. Since news of the first evacuation Saturday, the entire Black Hills State University campus has responded to meet these needs.

Dr. Thomas Flickema, BHSU president, praised the dedication and work of the entire BHSU community. “I am very proud of our staff who put aside the concerns of their daily routines to respond to Governor Janklow’s declaration of an emergency,” Flickema said. “The campus has responded as a team to provide for those forced to evacuate their homes.”

Royer, who was just beginning her official first week on the job as building director, was among the first on the scene as the Red Cross moved into the Young Center. She has since become the “go-to” person for the building throughout the week working with the agencies and volunteers to make this operation go smoothly.

“We just provided the facility,” Royer said. “We’ve opened the doors and try to do what we can to help. It’s been interesting.” Royer and other university staff members met with the governor Saturday evening to make plans for the evacuation. The National Guard, whose offices are actually located in the Young Center, is overseeing the operation there.

Royer praised the work of both the National Guard and the Red Cross. “They are very professional and know what they are doing,” she said. “We are trying to do what we can to accommodate them.”

Nick Krebs of the South Dakota National Guard said the operation will continue as long as it is needed. By mid-week (Wednesday) the 842nd unit in Spearfish had 38 active personnel. A total of 60 different people have been on orders. Krebs said the National Guard is working with the Red Cross and the Civil Air Patrol to accommodate the people staying at the Young Center.

“We are very thankful for the support of the community,” Krebs said. “The community response has just been overwhelming.”

At one point a call was put out for fans to provide some relief from the heat. Krebs said the entire community responded including area retail businesses and an abundance of fans were provided.

For several BHSU employees the effect of the evacuation has been dual. Both Myron Sullivan, BHSU senior security officer, and Mike Isaacson, director of residence life, were evacuated from their homes in Deadwood. Despite their own evacuation, Sullivan and Isaacson have also been very active in the effort to coordinate housing and help evacuees who are staying on campus.

Recognizing that needs remain even after the initial stage, the student affairs staff is already making plans to organize itself as a clean-up crew once the worst of this over.

“We want to help people get back to normal and there is a lot to do after the immediate crisis is over,” Dr. Judith Haislett, vice president for student affairs said. “We really meant it when we said we would be there for them.”

The staff members plan to work with the Civil Defense and the Red Cross to go to Deadwood and Lead to help with yard clean up, windows, scrubbing, and whatever else is needed.

Jennifer Butler, administrative assistant with BHSU student affairs, worked alongside the Red Cross and National Guard to provide residence hall rooms for the evacuees in Wenona Cook Hall and Heidepriem Hall. She and other members of the student affairs staff arrived Saturday evening and worked around the clock to prepare rooms and make arrangements as people displaced from their homes came to the Young Center.

Butler said the Red Cross has been appreciative of the work and noted that this evacuation site was one of the best with which they have worked. Butler noted that one Red Cross worker said this was the best run of the 45 evacuation centers he has seen. The Red Cross opened more than 340 cases in this operation.

Tim Johnston, director of food services and who is a National Guard member himself, led the effort to provide meals for evacuees staying on campus as well as those staying in area residences and campgrounds. In addition, the volunteers – for the Red Cross, the National Guard and Civil Air Patrol, and other community volunteers – were served meals.

Over the five days, Johnston and his crew prepared and served more than 2,500 meals. “When we found out we were going to be food source, everyone here just worked together to make it happen,” Johnston said. “I have a great crew and lots of good volunteers who worked long hours to do this.”

Durben named instructor at marksmanship camp  - Top

Dan Durben, BHSU assistant professor of chemistry, has been awarded a $6,000 grant to work for a civilian marksmanship camp (CMP) this summer.

Durben will serve as head instructor and Eastern camp director for the CMP Three Position Air Rifle Summer Camp Series. His duties include instruction, coaching, supervision of employees and camp participants, development of assistant coaches, registration, and administration of the camp. Durben may also work with CMP on future projects including revision of the camp curriculum and development of new training programs.

Durben is a former marksman competitor who later coached the Olympic rifle shooting team in Sydney.  He competed in the 1988 Olympics where he finished 13th.

Durben earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, 1982, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Arizona State University in Tempe, 1993. Durben has been a member of the BHSU faculty since 1993.

Smith receives grant to study population of ground lizard  - Top

Dr. Brian Smith, BHSU biology professor, has received a $2,500 grant from the John Ball Zoological Society Wildlife Conservation Fund to determine the population density of the Antiguan ground lizard.

Smith, who has extensive study of the Antigua Racer (snake) since 1995, will use this grant money to determine the population density of the Antiguan ground lizard on Green Island. This information will be included in a conservation plan submitted to the government of Antigua and Barbuda, West Indies, Lesser Antilles, as well as to local and international conservation organizations.

The Antiguan ground lizard is a prey item of the critically endangered snake, the Antiguan Racer, which Smith has been instrumental in studying since 1995. “Data on two species of lizard are critical to conservation of the snake,” said Smith, “Since they are both prey items of the snake.”

The study, which will continue through December, will also train local (Antiguan) students and conservation officials in modern techniques of conservation biology. Smith has assisted in training 8-10 students, government officials, and local volunteers, including one West Indian graduate student, since 1999.

Smith has been working with a consortium of scientists, environmental advocates, and government bureaucrats to re-introduce the snake to several small islands of Antigua. In 1999 BHSU joined the team of local, regional, and international partners that aims to conserve the critically endangered Antiguan Racer snake and its natural habitat. Additionally, it aims to enhance biodiversity conservation efforts in Antigua and Barbuda, with particular focus on the offshore islands of Antigua. More information about this research is available at http://www.bhsu.edu/bhww/arcp/index.html

Smith has been a member of the BHSU science faculty since 1997. He holds a Ph.D. in quantitative biology from the University of Texas.

Princeton math professor presents at BHSU  - Top

Theoretical math whiz John H. Conway used his fascination with games and puzzles to intrigue talented middle-school mathematic students during a special presentation at Black Hills State University this week.

Conway, the von Neumann professor of mathematics at Princeton University, was the recipient of the 1998 Frederic Esser Nemmers Prize in mathematics and has been described as being in a league with mathematician John Nash whose life was chronicled in the book and movie “A Beautiful Mind.”

Known as one of the great creative thinkers of our time and a master of mathematics communication with audiences of all levels, Conway captivated the interest of 61 Math Path participants as he gave the inaugural address.  He also presented special sessions during the first week of a four-week Math Path program currently in residence at BHSU. Math Path is a non-profit program run by a consortium of mathematicians and teachers.

Conway began his presentation with a strategy discussion of “dots and boxes,” a children’s game. Logic and numbers are often used to explain how to win a game, but Conway takes a different approach by showing how games can be used to describe numbers. Conway describes this particular game (dots and boxes) as one of the most fascinating games he knows and reminded students that the French played the game centuries ago. Kids today continue to play the game, many without bothering to think about strategy and logic. Conway challenged the students to think logically and to strategically apply their mathematics knowledge as they play.

“I’m not playing the games as much as I’m trying to teach you,” Conway said. “The intriguing thing about it is that there is a method to my madness in this game and in mathematical problems like this.”

He explained that symmetry is very important in this game “and very, very useful if you know it and your opponent doesn’t.” Following his presentation, students crowded to the front for a chance to challenge Conway in a game of “dots and boxes.”

The young students greeted the nationally recognized mathematician with shouts of “Conway, Conway!” As the lecture progressed, the students were quick to respond, take notes and discuss their ideas. At the end of the hour-long session, Conway quickly scrawled a mathematical equation on the whiteboard; the young math prodigies were left to check his instant calculations on their manual calculators and asked in amazement “How did he do that?”

Conway’s work covers a wide spectrum of mathematical disciplines including knot theory, many dimensional geometry, transfinite numbers, surreal numbers, sporadic groups and the “Game of Life,” a game he created that opened up the field of mathematics called cellular automata. Conway has long been fascinated by these types of games and he believes that developing strategies for winning is a basis of understanding theories of numbers.

Conway’s session is part of the Math Path residential program being held on the BHSU campus. Other special presenters scheduled include Titu Andreescu, executive director of American Mathematics Competition, George Hart, expert on the construction of polyhedra and art involving them, and Len Berggren, professor of mathematics from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. It was Conway who suggested the name Math Path as a fitting title for this national program for young students as they begin their journey on the mathematical path.

The students were eager to discuss their ideas and the mathematical concepts. That is just what George Thomas, executive director of Math Path, wants these students to do. “We stress the concepts and are heavy on problem solving,” Thomas said.

Known as Dr. T to his students, Thomas has directed some of the leading math camps for mathematically talented high school students for nearly a decade. This is the first year of Math Path, a program designed especially for middle-school mathematicians. Thomas espouses the advantages of challenging these young potential mathematicians by pointing out that most major mathematical discoveries were made by people before they reached 40 years of age. “Thus in mathematics, as in music, an early professional training is called for,” Thomas said.

These students were selected from among 231 applicants. For consideration, students were required to submit a qualifying quiz and be recommended by both a teacher and someone who knows the student socially.

“We are looking for students who get the maximum benefit who will hopefully grow up and help future mathematicians,” Thomas said.  The Math Path staff members are alumni of Thomas’ math camps and serve as mentors to the middl-school students.

“At this tender age, we want to give a positive influence in terms of character with the staff,” Thomas said.  “The staff are profoundly gifted and provide a good influence on the younger ones.”

Thomas, who has worked with several campuses across the country, looked at several locations before he chose BHSU as the ideal site for his first middle-school program. He has several reasons, including the safety and security of a small campus in a small-town setting and the variety of nearby recreational and historical attractions, for choosing BHSU.

Thomas believes the young students will benefit from the proximity of nature as well as the opportunities for weekend recreational trips. The Math Path daily schedule includes seminars in problem solving and sessions in the history of mathematics, fundamental concepts, and writing in mathematics. Evening and weekend activities are planned to fit the social and athletic needs of the students. The group plans to visit Mt. Rushmore, Devils Tower, Jewel Cave and other area attractions.

“We want the program to be challenging and ensure that the academic activities are balanced by athletic, social and cultural activities,” Thomas said. Thomas indicated that the staff at BHSU have been very helpful.

“That’s another of the reasons we chose to come here,” Thomas said. “The people have been so helpful and friendly.” He said that several parents had expressed approval of the campus selection as they brought their students to the camp even though many traveled a great number of miles. Math Path is one of  35 conference hosted by BHSU this summer.

The journey along the Math Path has brought numerous beautiful minds to the BHSU campus in the scenic northern Hills. As these talented young mathematicians use game and puzzles in their study, what they are learning has the potential to impact our society in unforeseen ways.

“These are the brightest and the best of the young mathematical students,” said Dr. Lyle Cook, vice president for academic affairs at BHSU. “You are looking at the future; those who will be running the world in 10 or 15 years.”

Bone marrow donor search conducted  - Top

BHSU employees Terry Hupp, instructional designer, and Cal Crooks, instructional media coordinator, were among the volunteers to undergo testing in a search for a bone marrow match for Stevi Wickenheiser.  Stevi was diagnosed with leukemia in May and can only be cured medically with a bone marrow transplant according to her mother Tracie Wickenheiser, who is a Whitewood police officer. After discovering that no family members were a match, a donor search was organized including one day of testing at the Hall of Fame room at the BHSU Young Center. There was a steady stream of people, including many who were at the Young Center either as an evacuee or as a volunteer, who stopped by to be tested.  Donations for Stevi are being accepted at: Friends of Stevi, PO Box 8184, Rapid City, SD 57709.

BHSU ranks 23rd nationally for athletic success  - Top

Black Hills State University athletics placed 23rd nationally in the Sears Directors’ Cup, a joint effort between the National Associations of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. University athletic departments are ranked based on the performance and final standings for the entire athletic department.

According to Bud Synhorst, athletic director at BHSU, points are allowed for up to 12 sports per university. Since BHSU offers only 10 sports, five for men and five for women, being ranked in the top 25 is especially satisfying.

“As an athletic department we were very successful,” Synhorst said. “I am very proud of our student athletes and coaches for their hard work and dedication. Their effort really shows by our high ranking in the final standings.”

“Our goal as a university athletic department is to improve on that standing on a year-to-year basis,” Synhorst said.

The University of Mary, Bismarck, N.D., was the only institution in the DAC-10 conference that ranked higher than BHSU. Mary ranked 11th overall.

Summer Institute of the Arts students perform opera

Vocal arts and opera theatre school students performed opera scenes and arias at the final presentation of the BHSU Summer Arts Institute. LaBoheme received superb reviews from the many people who attended as well as from the opera faculty

"BHSU is most fortunate to attain the national calibre of faculty and students who devote their time to a program that is clearly a labor of love of the arts," said LaVerne Cook.

The BHSU Summer Arts Institute is hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences.