Black Hills State University professor
receives grant to assess leopard frogs - Top
A $9,000 grant has been awarded to Dr. Brian
Smith, associate professor of biology at Black Hills Sate University, to
assist the University of Wyoming in the development of a species
assessment for the plains leopard frog in Region 2 of the National
will also amend the existing Black Hills National Forest northern
leopard frog assessment.
has been a member of the BHSU science faculty since 1997. He earned a
Ph.D. in quantitative biology from the University of Texas in 1996.
Sarver conducts molecular genetics program for Oglala Lakota College -
Black Hills State
University has received a $25,375 grant from the Oglala Lakota College
to conduct a summer program in molecular genetics. Dr. Shane Sarver,
associate professor of biology at BHSU, is overseeing the project. The
program is being held on the campus of South Dakota School of Mines and
Technology in Rapid City.
responsibilities include the development of curriculum for undergraduate
training and faculty development, writing a training manual for use in
the molecular lab and teaching a workshop in basic laboratory
techniques. Saver will also hold a workshop in molecular techniques for
the classroom and mentor OLC undergraduate students conducting summer
has been a member of the BHSU faculty since 1996 and is responsible for
the development of a state of the art genetics laboratory at BH. He
earned his Ph.D. in zoology from Louisiana State University.
Sixteenth Annual BHSU President's Cup to
be held Aug. 30 - Top
BHSU President's Cup golf tournament will be Aug. 30 at the Spearfish
Canyon Country Club. Tee time for this four-scramble, eighteen-hole
tournament is 1 p.m.
Players who are not members of the country club will be charged $30
for green fees and $12 per person for cart fees. Payment is expected at
the golf course on Aug. 30.
Persons planning to attend must RSVP by Monday, Aug. 26, by calling
642-6385 to reserve a spot and report their handicap.
Black Hills program offers students the opportunity of a lifetime - Top
The first year of college life is usually a
memorable experience for anyone and Black Hills State University hopes
to make this year even more exceptional for new students. Fall 2002 will
see the introduction of the Black Hills First Year Experience program
designed to foster a commitment from students to the university by
encouraging academic success and social interaction.
The program addresses the concern at BH where
retention of new students after the first year is not as strong as the
college would hope. Offices on campus such as student life and student
support have addressed this problem in their own ways, but support will
come from a new angle this year as BHSU faculty pilot the new program,
also known as Experience Black Hills.
is the first attempt [to improve retention] from the academic side,”
said Dr. Sharon Strand, associate professor with the College of Arts and
Sciences and co-director of the program. Strand will work with
co-director Dr. Joe Valades, coordinator of the Student Assistance
Center, who will provide support from student life.
The ambitious new program has been in the planning
stages for some time and made its first appearance at PREP Days, where
new students were enticed by the possibility of a unique college
experience that will help them be a successful student at BH.
The pilot project aims to link academic classes and
emphasize the importance of life-long learning skills for first-year
students while targeting their perceptions of isolation and lack of
confidence in academic prowess. The program is off to a successful start
having already filled its capacity of 100 students for the fall. The
students have formed four groups of 25 that will together take a
required English Composition 1 class with a linked general education
class in sociology, American government, visual arts or astronomy.
The way classes are linked is the first unique
aspect of this program.
“The ideas that are being presented in the
general education class will be what is being written about in the
composition class,” said Strand, who will teach a composition class in
conjunction with Dr. Dan Durben’s astronomy class and lab. This
approach of learning through writing will help students form strong
connections between the ideas presented in their classes.
The linked classes for this fall have, for the most
part, paired English professors with a subject they have prior knowledge
or interest in. One example is connecting English professor Kent Meyers,
known for his vivid and visual writing, with art professor Jim Knutson.
Strand is an exception to this because she has no background in
astronomy, so she will be learning along with the students.
“I think it’s a good thing for students to see
the teachers learn,” said Strand, who has earned a reputation as the
university grandmother by being straightforward with young students in
the past. “Even though I’m everybody’s grandma, I’m not through
learning. I hope this shows others to continue learning their whole
Another unique aspect of the program is how the
students are arranged into small groups, which provides both academic
and social benefits to the students. Students can look to their groups
for a social connection and as a source for people to study and learn
with outside of the classroom.
Other activities with the groups will also be
encouraged as the program aims to serve as a connection to events in the
campus and community. Events will be announced in the core classes and
groups will be encouraged to meet and attend together. Becoming involved
in the community can be a group effort. This is especially beneficial
for students who commute and miss out on the dorm experience.
Isolation will also be broken between students and
faculty in a “small school” environment where professors can more
easily identify their core of students. The faculty has the opportunity
to take advantage of the small class size and show students that someone
cares about whether or not they are attending or doing well in class.
Professors can pinpoint students who may be losing interest and help
them refuel the desire to participate by recommending study groups and
tutors on campus.
The program takes a unique approach when it comes
to specific training for the teachers. Faculty has been trained to use
active learning techniques, to understand the learning patterns of
students, and to collaborate in teaching. Workshops have been held
throughout the summer providing faculty with important information about
the program. The faculty members have also learned more about campus
services available and have reinforced their advising skills.
Strand said this program builds on the “idea that
we’re [at BHSU] for the serious but enjoyable business of learning,
and that is an attitude that permeates this university.”
Everyone is prepared and the program’s first year
promises to be a successful one. The future of the program, however,
depends on a grant Strand will apply for from the Archibald Bush
Foundation, based in St. Paul, Minn. Experience Black Hills is currently
funded by remaining money from a previous Bush grant and extra support
from academic affairs and student life. The previous grant was $360,000
awarded over three years, and Strand, who is composing the current
proposal for a higher amount, is confident they will receive the new
Keeping to this optimism, Strand has high hopes for
the future of the program. Though the current focus is on retaining the
first 100 participants, the program has room to build and expand. Strand
hopes to link the composition classes with other subjects such as speech
and math. Science, psychology, American history, western civilization
and wellness for life are already offered as possible conjunctions in
the spring with English Composition 2. By including more classes, the
program will someday fill needs for transferring, non-traditional, and
upper level students.
The Black Hills First Year Experience program is
off to a good start and has the potential for a strong future. Students
in the Class of ’06 at BHSU have the opportunity to make their first
year experience last a lifetime.
East meets west - Top
Western Civilization has always been
fascinated with the Far East. Once Marco Polo
returned to the courts of
13th century Venice with his treasures of silk and spices and
his tales of adventure, the intriguing cultures of the orient were
exposed. Ever since, westerners have sought to increase contact with the
peoples of the Far East.
That fascination has not always been a
mutual one, but today the east is showing an increasing interest in many
things western. In Japan that interest is especially keen when it comes
to the Native American cultures and the historical “wild west” of
During the month of August, 16 students
from Gifu City, Japan, are experiencing the culture of the American
west, its native peoples and one bonus group, the Sturgis Rally bikers,
as part of the second annual student exchange between Black Hills State
University and Gifu City Women’s College (GCWC).
An agreement reached in 2000 between BHSU and GCWC, a two-year
institution located in Gifu City, calls for the exchange of faculty and
students in the hope of furthering international relationships and
The exchange program is modeled on a similar Gifu exchange program
with Thomas Moore College in Indiana. The BH program differs in that it
calls for the full exchange of students and faculty from both schools
while Moore only takes visiting students from Japan. BHSU is also
studying the possibility of students from Gifu completing a
four-year degree here after those students have completed two years of
study in Japan.
This international exchange program for BHSU started by chance when
Dr. Dan Farrington, director of grants and special projects at BH, and
his wife rented a townhouse in Spearfish from the parents of Dr. Donna
Erickson. Erickson’s father introduced her to Farrington, which lead
to Farrington inviting Erickson to lecture at BHSU. Soon after, the two
discussed the idea of an exchange program.
Erickson, who received a masters in Japanese language and literature
at the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. in linguistics from the
University of Connecticut, teaches English conversation at Gifu City
Women’s College and continues to pursue research in the field of
Erickson is BH’s connection to Gifu. All of the girls who travel to
BH are chosen from the department of international studies where
Erickson teaches. According to Farrington, 150 students at Gifu are
eligible for the program and approximately 10 percent of them are
already participating each year.
“We feel that’s a tremendous accomplishment to get those girls
[to BH],” said Farrington. Erickson hopes that one day the program
will be available to all the students at Gifu.
Erickson, an American who has lived in Japan the last four-and-a-half
years, became fascinated with the country when she visited Japan as part
of a student exchange group while in college. Erickson fell in love with
Japan and its culture. Ironically, she was majoring in French at the
Dr. Holly Downing, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at BHSU,
has the responsibility of administrating the program on this side of the
Pacific. Dr. Ronnie Theisz, department of humanities chairman at BH,
acts as Gifu project coordinator. A number of BH professors and staff,
along with numerous volunteers, make the program work.
According to Downing, the Gifu project is a good fit with BHSU’s
current effort to internationalize the campus and revamp its
international studies program. “The Pacific Rim is an increasingly
important area,” said Downing.
In an attempt to build on the program’s momentum, Downing and
Farrington recently made a trip to Japan to meet with administrators and
other personnel of GCWC. According to Downing, one of the surprising
differences in the administration of higher education in Japan and
America is that the city governments in Japan oversee the colleges,
making the mayor of Gifu City a major player in all school negotiations.
The main item on their agenda was making the student exchange a
reciprocal arrangement. “I’d like to see a full-blown exchange of
students and faculty,” said Downing. According to Downing, BH is
hoping to send its first two exchange students to Japan next June.
Farrington and Downing also delivered resumes of BHSU faculty who are
interested in traveling to Japan and participating in the program when
that stage is reached. Gifu’s school calendar differs from BHSU’s, so
two- or three-week mini-exchanges for faculty may be possible without
disrupting schedules at BH.
While in Spearfish, the Japanese students stay on campus and spend
their time involved in a mixture of academic and tourist activities
meant to share our culture. An average day includes two classes in the
morning, English as a second language (ESL) and a class that
varies in subject matter.
The group studies basic geology of the area, pioneer history, as well
as the cultures of the Native Americans of this region. Upon completion
of the program, students earn two college credits toward their degree.
Afternoons and weekends are filled with a variety of activities meant
to introduce them to the many facets of American life and reveal some of
the attractions of the Black Hills.
The itinerary is an eclectic mix of venues covering the gamut of area
experiences, ranging from a pow wow on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
to a day spent experiencing the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis. Of
course, there are also a number of outings where the main goal is just
to have fun. The group plans to tube Spearfish Creek, catch a movie or
two and swim in Sylvan Lake.
Many of the field trips, such as the pow wow, are directly connected
to their studies; others are designed to teach and relate the
similarities of the Japanese and American cultures.
One such experience is learning the basics of fly-fishing with Dr.
Charles Lamb, an associate professor at BH who is also an avid
Fishing, although in quite a different manner, is an important
segment of the culture of Gifu City. For hundreds of years the Gifu area
has been known for cormorant fishing. This ancient technique involves
the use of trained birds (cormorant) that ply the waters of the Nagara
River and retrieve fish for the waiting boatmen. Following the afternoon
of fishing in Spearfish Creek, the girls will enjoy a fish fry at the
home of Erickson’s parents.
While in Spearfish, the students visit the homes of program
participants for dinner a number of times. These visits are a chance for
the students to experience life in the American home.
To that end, the students get out of the campus dorms and spend a few
days in the homes of volunteer host families. According to Erickson, the
home stays were a very popular segment of the program last year. They
were so successful, in fact, that this year’s group stayed a week with
their host families instead of a weekend like last year’s students.
Assistant professor Steve Babbitt and his wife, Dr. Nancy Babbitt,
have acted as hosts both years of the program. “It’s a great part of
the program, especially for my young son. It’s so good for him to be
exposed to people from different cultures and countries,” said
Erickson says everyone at BH and in the Spearfish area is very
supportive of the exchange. “The idea [of the exchange] is a mutual
opening of minds,” said Erickson. “You can see the girls change in
the short time they are here. I take pictures when they first come and
then when they leave,” said Erickson. “The way they dress changes,
even their faces seem to change.”
from the Black Hills State University/Gifu City Women’s College
exchange program study area geology up close when graduate student John
Knight, geology instructor for the program, takes his class of students
from Gifu City, Japan, into Spearfish Canyon.
explorer to be next Madeline
Young speaker - Top
The world will visit
Black Hills State University at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 when
anthropologist, botanical explorer and best-selling author Wade Davis
appears as the next Madeline Young Speaker in the Student Union Yellow
Jacket Legacy Room.
The Madeline A. Young
Distinguished Speaker Series at BHSU was established in 1986 by a
$150,000 gift endowment from Madeline Young, a 1924 alumna. In the past,
the series has hosted free presentations by such illustrious speakers as
former president of Poland Lech Walesa, 1995 Pulitzer Prize winner Doris
Kearns Goodwin, co-anchor of "Prime Time Live" and 27-year
veteran of ABC news Sam Donaldson, and actors Danny Glover and Felix
Justice in conjunction with Black History Month.
Davis is an explorer
in residence for the National Geographic Society and a Harvard-trained
anthropologist and plant explorer. He has spent the last 25 years
traveling the world from the Arctic to the Amazon, from Tibet to
Venezuela and more recently to Peru, Borneo, Tibet, Venezuela and Kenya.
His presentations have captivated audiences in the past, and his visit
to BH promises to live up to that reputation.
The man who considers
himself “an independent scholar” received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany
from Harvard University. His work as a plant explorer through the
Harvard Botanical Museum opened the door to other interests, such as the
assignment that took him to Haiti to investigate folk preparations
implicated in the creation of zombies. This experience inspired him to
write “Passage of Darkness” in 1988 and “The Serpent and the
Rainbow” in 1986, an international best-seller that was later released
by Universal Studios as a motion picture.
Davis has earned a
reputation as an adventurer and has been described as a living Indiana
Jones. He has lived among indigenous groups in Latin America, conducted
ethnographic fieldwork in Canada, and has published scientific and
popular articles ranging from Haitian voodoo and Amazonian myth and
religion to the global biodiversity crisis. He has also written about
the traditional use of psychotropic drugs and the ethnobotany of South
Davis is a member of
several organizations dedicated to conservation-based development and
the protection of cultural and biological diversity. He is known as a
fascinating speaker who is able to convey both the wonder and science of
a disappearing world. Davis brings a world of experience with him to add
to BHSU’s list of renowned Madeline Young Speakers.
Sign of the times - Top
returning to campus this fall will find many changes at Black Hills
State University. Demolition work is winding down and an area near
the site of the
former Cook Gymnasium is being prepared for the construction of BHSU's
new music/academic building. The new music/academic facility, scheduled
for completion next fall, will be a 47,830 square-foot complex of
recital halls, classrooms, practice rooms and offices. Its projected
cost is $8.25 million. Other recent changes at BHSU include the
remodeled north entrance to the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student
Union (shown in the background) and the National Guard addition at the
Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center. The new faculty/staff parking
lot is also open now and in use. The fall semester at BHSU begins Sept.
can use this sign for a vision into the future of Black Hills State
University. Now that the demolition of the old Cook Gym building is
complete, workers have started preparations for the construction of the
new music/academic facility’s foundation.
Robert P. Watson to give presentation at
Grace Balloch Memorial Library - Top
There will be a presentation by Robert P. Watson, "Maintaining
Democracy in an Unstable World," on Saturday, Aug. 24 at 2 p.m. at
the Grace Balloch Memorial Library in Spearfish. It is presented by the
South Dakota Center for the Book and the Friends of Grace Balloch
Memorial Library. Watson, the author of The Presidents' Wives, will
focus on the wives of the four Mt. Rushmore presidents.