Volume XXVII  No. 11 • March 14, 2003

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BHSU receives Bush Foundation grant to establish a first-year experience program - top

Dr. Sharon Strand, associate professor of English and director of composition, has been awarded a Bush Foundation grant to establish a “Black Hills Experience” program at Black Hills State University. The Bush Foundation has dedicated nearly $360,000 over three years to improve the quality of teaching and learning during students’ critical first year of college by providing support for faculty development.

According to Strand, many BHSU students from rural areas where community is very important are often overwhelmed by the size of the campus. The Black Hills Experience program will link small groups of students in common first-year courses to create smaller learning communities within the larger university environment. Through the program, students will connect more effectively to their coursework, the BHSU community, and the surrounding area.

Dr. Lyle Cook, vice president for academic affairs at BHSU, provided initial resources to pilot the Black Hills Experience in the fall of 2002. Eighty-three students participated in designated sections of a communication class along with a linked introductory course: astronomy, sociology, American government or visual arts.  Assignments in Communication I were directly related to course content in the linked courses. Participating faculty were trained in advising, campus resources, learning skills, and freshmen characteristics prior to the start of the fall semester, making them more aware of student adjustment issues and allowing them to provide a more supportive classroom environment for new students. BHSU professors Christine Shearer-Cremean, David Cremean, Kent Meyers, Tim Martinez, Dan Durben, Jim Knutson, and Dan Peterson collaborated with Strand on the pilot project.

Results of the pilot project were very promising. Students who enrolled in the Black Hills Experience were more likely to return for the spring semester (93 percent compared to 85 percent for a non-participant control group) and had a higher first semester grade point average than non-participants (2.8 compared to 2.2).  Participating faculty reported that their teaching methods were positively influenced by collaboration with faculty in another discipline.

The commitment from the Bush Foundation will enable BHSU to fully implement the project this fall. Strand will direct the activity portion of the Black Hills Experience, recruiting faculty and students to participate and coordinating the overall project. Dr. Joe Valades, retention director, will assist with faculty training and will help connect co-curricular opportunities (i.e. tutoring, career planning, student organizations, etc.) to the Black Hills Experience. Eight new faculty members will be invited to join the Black Hills Experience project each year to collaborate on linked assignments, focus attention on student advisement, and participate in training and discussion groups. Expansion of the Black Hills Experience over the next three years is expected to result in marked improvements in first-year students’ performance, persistence, and satisfaction.

Three BHSU employees among the National Guard unit deployed - top 

Tim Johnston, Mike Tiffany and Jade Harney, all full-time Black Hills State University employees, are among the soldiers of the 842nd National Guard Unit in Spearfish who are leaving their civilian jobs to serve with the activated unit. The Spearfish-based National Guard unit was alerted for active duty in January and began active duty this week.

Tim Johnston, director of dining services at BHSU, was surprised this week with a going-away reception in his 
honor. At the gathering Leonne Geppert, dining services accountant, expressed her concern and support as she 
read a note she had written for Johnston and others being
deployed, including her nephew.

While we are worried sick about you going off to a 
foreign country, it is with great pride and admiration we 
say ‘Via con Dios’. On behalf of your dining services 
family, thank you for the great sacrifice you are making. 
We will be praying for your safe and speedy return. Know that when you leave, you take with you our admiration, our gratitude, and our love,
Geppert said.

Johnston, though unsure when and where he be stationed 
for active duty, assured co-workers that he will be back as soon as possible.

Jade Harney, area coordinator for residence life at BHSU,  

Tim Johnston, director of dining services at Black Hills State University, was surprised with a 
going away gathering this week. Johnston is one of three BHSU employees who are 
part of the 842nd National Guard unit being activated.
joined the Spearfish unit of the National Guard when he was a student 11 years ago and is now a sergeant with the dump truck section.

Harney said he always knew being called to active duty was a possibility but didn’t think about it too much.

“We knew it was an option. Recently it became not a matter of if we were being called, but when,” Harney said. As the unit makes activation preparations Harney said he is “excited, yet at the same time apprehensive. We’ve had all this training and now I’m excited to find out what we will actually be doing.” He said his biggest fear is the possibility of encountering chemical warfare.

Harney said his family is encouraging even as they are concerned.

“My mother is typical,” Harney said. “She is used to having me around and likes having me around.” His mother, who lives in Pine Haven, Wyo., is now trying to enjoy as much time with her son as possible before he leaves.

Tiffany, who joined the custodial staff at BHSU five years ago, is an equipment section sergeant with the National Guard. He and his wife Jillian, who is an elementary teacher, have two young children, Hannah, who is almost five, and Samuel, age two.

A veteran of the Gulf War, Tiffany served in the Marine Corp beginning in 1972 and later served in the Minnesota National Guard. Tiffany oversees an equipment operation support team for an earth moving section of the Guard unit. Tiffany’s previous experience in the Gulf War gives him an experienced perspective that is perhaps more apprehensive than that expressed by some of the younger soldiers.

“Since I was there before, I do have some apprehension,” Tiffany said. “Danger is part of the job and I know we have the possibility of being involved in dangerous situations.”

Tiffany is quick to add that he has complete confidence in his unit.

“If there was any unit to go with, the 842nd would be it,” he said. “It’s a great unit. We look for each other and take care of each other.”

Tiffany indicated that his wife Jillian, although concerned, is supportive of his commitment to his service.

“What happens from here is an unknown,” Tiffany said. “The unknown is the part that bothers her (his wife) the most.”

Tiffany and his wife have worked split shifts since their children were born, so now the two young children are adjusting to a new schedule that includes daycare for the first time in their lives.

“My two year old doesn’t grasp the situation and probably won’t until I’m gone,” Tiffany said, “but my five year old doesn’t want me to leave. The toughest part is leaving my family.”

Tiffany, in a sentiment echoed by the two other BHSU employees, expressed his appreciation for the support of the university, his supervisors and his co-workers.

“The university has been excellent through all of my National Guard activities. Everyone has been just great,” Tiffany said. “They may not realize how important that is to us. It relieves a lot of stress for us knowing that our employer is supportive of what we are doing.”

Mike Tiffany (left) and 
Jade Harney, both BHSU employees, are among the approximately 150 soldiers activated with the 842nd unit in Spearfish. 




National Guard unit plans activation ceremony at the Young Center - top

The National Guard will hold an activation ceremony at the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center Friday, March 14 at 9:30 a.m. for the 842nd unit stationed in Spearfish.

The National Guard unit was called to active duty for the first time in its 35-year history in January. An activation ceremony for the approximately 150 members of the company is scheduled for Friday. The actual date of departure for the unit, which was originally set for Monday, has been delayed. The guardsmen will participate in home station duty in Spearfish until departure.

The ceremony basically makes the National Guard unit an active unit, according to Todd Otterberg, area recruiter, as the unit and its members will be formally mobilized to active duty during the ceremony. South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds and several other dignitaries are expected to attend the hour-long ceremony. National guard members will be given the opportunity to go through a receiving line to speak to the governor and the general. A reception will be held in the Young Center field house for community members, soldiers and families following the ceremony.

In the afternoon the soldiers and their families will attend briefings concerning deployment. The unit will then commence training, which was originally scheduled at a mobilization site, in the Black Hills area and be evaluated by an evaluation team. When the unit is mobilized they will likely be located at an active army post according to Otterberg.

The Spearfish National Guard unit is headquartered at a newly constructed addition to the Young Center on the BHSU campus. Otterberg indicated that while the National Guard will continue to work out of their offices at the Young Center, they are trying to get off campus for most of the training to limit the disruption of campus and community activities. Most of the training exercises will be conducted on land in the northern hills or at locations near Rapid City and Ft. Meade.

Approximately 20-25 university students who are a part of the Spearfish unit are now making arrangements to withdraw from classes as they begin active duty. Students being called to active duty at this point in the semester are withdrawing from classes, according to a policy set by the South Dakota Board of Regents. These students are refunded 100 percent of their fees according to April Meeker, director of records at BHSU. The Regents’ policy allows students who are in the last four weeks of the semester the option of taking a letter grade at that point or withdrawing for a refund.

The 842nd unit’s mission is to provide heavy equipment support on the battlefield, including tasks such as building roads and constructing airfields. The unit is equipped with bulldozers, 20-ton dump trucks, loaders, scrapers, cranes, and road graders. The unit has served in Nicaragua and Italy as well as being involved in several community projects including construction of a crosswind runway at the Sturgis Airport, completing groundwork for the Belle Fourche athletic complex and building new bridges at Orman Dam.

Baseball exhibit on display at Ruddell Gallery - top  

Local baseball enthusiasts Dick Ruddell, Jim Thompson and Paul Higbee are combining their knowledge, collections and expertise to host a baseball memorabilia exhibition in the Ruddell Gallery at Black Hills State University March 10 through April 4. Three presentations are also planned in conjunction with the exhibit.

The exhibit, which opened Monday, March 10, consists of a variety of baseball memorabilia that belong to collector Thompson.

Thompson and Paul Kopco, webmaster and instructor at BHSU, provided entertainment at the opening reception Wednesday, March 12 with a rendition of the famous baseball comedy exchange between Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, “Who’s on First.” Participants enjoyed traditional baseball treats such as hot dogs, Cracker Jacks and apple pie while listening to legendary baseball stories.

The following Wednesday, March 19 at noon Ruddell and Higbee will lead a discussion on the history of South Dakota baseball during a brown bag luncheon at the Matthews Opera House.

The final event scheduled in conjunction with this exhibit  is a live radio broadcast Wednesday, April 2 at 1 p.m. in the Ruddell Gallery. Thompson will take calls from interested listeners while visiting with Ruddell and Higbee about baseball in South Dakota.

The gallery is open to visitors on a modified schedule. If the gallery is closed, stop at the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union information desk to arrange for access. For more information call the information desk at 642-6062.

This is one of the exhibits currently on display 
at the baseball memorabilia show in the 
Ruddell Gallery. The opening reception 
featured entertainment by Jim Thompson and Paul Kopco as well as traditional baseball treats such as hot dogs, Cracker Jacks and apple pie.





Attitude is everything for BH student honored as Soldier of the Year - top

By Antonia Kucera, University Communications intern

Black Hills State University junior Tricia Beringer didn’t plan on joining the National Guard. When she joined two years ago in March of 2001, it was because she wanted to do something spontaneous and fun. That’s right – fun. Most people would not think of the word “fun” when it comes to military service, but with an attitude like Beringer’s, challenges become adventures.

“I love the military lifestyle,” she said with honest enthusiasm. This upbeat outlook on life, along with some hard work, helped her recently earn the honor of South Dakota Soldier of the Year and has prepared her for the activation of her company, the 842nd Engineering Co. in Spearfish.

Serving in the National Guard only one of several challenges faced by this 22-year-old woman from Gettysburg. She is also a biology major at BHSU who hopes to someday become a physician’s assistant. Beringer started her college career at the University of Wyoming, but decided to make the move to BH after only one semester. As she started her first semester at BH, the benefits of joining the National Guard seemed to present the perfect opportunity for Beringer.

“It was nice to know that I would have enough income to not have to carry a full-time job while I was in school,” Beringer said.

She was confident she could handle the tough aspect of the Guard – she always handled getting picked on by her two brothers growing up. Beringer has been a strong and capable person physically her entire life; besides standing her ground against brotherly love, she competed in sports such as basketball, track and cross-country while attending high school in Spearfish. Going to college and joining the Guard were just new steps for her to take. Working one weekend a month and two weeks a year would be no problem for her.

With a positive attitude, Beringer has charged through her college career and Guard duty with surmounting success. She works hard and is active in several student organizations, including the Newman Club and Scientia. She has also completed 1,000 hours of certified nurse’s assistant clinical work and plans to do the same amount of emergency medical technician work. The extra work is not required for her degree at BH, but Beringer is planning ahead and hopes her ambitious accomplishments will help her get into graduate school.

“It’s important that students aren’t just students,” Beringer said. She places high value on the benefits of getting involved in other activities and having a well-rounded social life. She feels this has helped her keep her head on straight.

Beringer’s success at college only hints at her success in the Guard. An average person may just tackle a job she already knew how to do, but Beringer is not ordinary. She decided she wanted to try something different in which she had no experience – food preparation. Before joining the Guard, she was like many other college students, living on macaroni and cheese. Everything she knows now as an E-4 food specialist was learned first in basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina and then in specialized training at Fort Lee in Virginia. She was named Soldier of the Cycle in basic training and Leader of the Cycle at advanced training, both times earning the highest physical fitness scores. She also earned the state of South Dakota Distinguished Service Award.

As a food specialist, her main job is to make sure the soldiers are fed, which may seem like a small task, but it is of utmost importance. She is responsible for making sure there are enough rations for everyone and she determines whether the soldiers eat a hot or cold meal. She keeps the troops healthy by keeping them fed, and she boosts morale with her optimistic attitude.

It is no surprise then that Beringer was nominated to participate in competition that would lead to being named South Dakota Soldier of the Year. She started the challenge at the company level and advanced through the battalion and group levels, facing a new military board of judges each time, to get to the state level. Beringer is the first soldier from the 842nd Engineering Co. to make it to state. Here she competed against four other individuals in an intense question-and-answer review by leading sergeants and majors, who Beringer refers to as “The Big Wigs.” She was judged not only on her past work and how she answered difficult questions requiring advanced knowledge of military information; she was also judged on what is known as military bearing – her ability to present herself professionally and live up to the military’s reputation. Beringer was nervous and it was a challenge to keep her composure throughout the barrage of questions, but, she says, it is “always a good feeling when it’s over.”

She obviously did well and was deservingly honored as Soldier of the Year. Beringer is proud of the accomplishment and, of course, positive effect it will have on her resume. She has also made some valuable connections through the experience. There were some difficulties getting to the competition, such as weather prohibiting helicopter transportation and engine trouble in a Suburban on the way to Pierre, but Beringer was in good hands all the way. South Dakota State National Guard Command Sergeant Major Michael Birnbaum got her to the competition safely; throughout everything, Beringer made a good impression on Birnbaum and he is making it possible for her to get an early promotion to an E-5 sergeant. It usually takes Guard members about five years to reach that promotion; Beringer is on her way after only two years.

The promotion comes along with new circumstances, however. Beringer is one of more than 20 university students in her unit who have been activated. Beringer will be promoted when she is deployed. The sudden orders has hindered some of her plans; she was scheduled to continue on to San Antonio, Texas, and compete to become Soldier of the Year for the western United States, but she will now be unable to meet that particular challenge. The special circumstances may allow her to compete next year if she is back in time. Beringer has also had to drop all of her classes this semester at BH; students can sympathize with the frustration at working half way through the semester and then having to drop it all and receive no credit.

Beringer just takes it all in stride, though, and keeps on going with a smile. “There’s nothing you can do about it, so why be upset about it?” she asks. Instead, she looks ahead to the new challenge with anticipation. She said she is physically and mentally prepared.

“I’ve decided I’m just going to make an adventure out of it and do everything I can to keep a positive outlook,” she said.

Even though she sees deployment as a new adventure, she wants people – especially war protestors – to realize that the threat to America’s safety is not a matter to be taken lightly. “We (soldiers) are not doing it for the fun of it – we’re doing it so [future] kids can have freedom.” South Dakota’s Soldier of the Year and other soldiers are willing and ready to do all they can to prevent any danger to America’s safety.

Campus groups will host Women’s History Month activities - top

Several Black Hills State University groups are hosting a candlelight vigil and panel discussion Tuesday, March 18 in honor of Women’s History Month. The Center for Indian Studies and United Ministries will partner with the Circle K and NOW student organizations to sponsor the events.

The activities will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Ida Henton Park with the Voices Against Domestic Violence Candlelight Vigil, sponsored by Circle K and NOW. Admission is a donation of food, clothing or volunteer time for the Artemis House. After the vigil, a panel discussion called "Giving Voice" will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center Hall of Fame Room. The discussion will cover different topics and issues associated with women. Beth Tracton will discuss the ages of women, Cheryl Anagnopoulos will discuss the psychology of women, Jace DeCory will give a presentation on American Indian women, John Glover will talk about stereotypes of women, and Dan Peterson will present the effects of men and masculinity on women.

The activities are open to the public. In case of inclement weather the candlelight vigil will be moved to the Young Center Hall of Fame Room. Contact Leona White Hat, assistant director of the Center for Indian Studies, at 642-6578 or Jean Helmer, director of United Ministries, at 642-6556 for more information.

BHSU Career Center will hold an interviewing skills workshop - top

The Black Hills State University Career Center will sponsor an intensive all-day interviewing skills workshop, “Ace the Interview,” Saturday, March 22 from 9 a.m. 
to 4 p.m. in the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union Market Place.

An experienced recruiter who has interviewed over 16,000 students will conduct the workshop. The session will discuss why recruiters ask the things they ask and what they are looking for in responses. Those in attendance will experience six critiqued practice interviews to improve self-confidence and personal interviewing skills.

A free pizza lunch will be served. All career fairs and workshops are free of charge and open to the general public. Contact the BHSU Career Center at 642-6277 or wildbill@bhsu.edu for more information or to register for the workshop.

Spring 2003 Film Series continues March 27 - top

The Spring 2003 Film Series at Black Hills State University will continue Thursday, March 27 with the movie “Saving Grace.”

Directed by Nigel Cole in 2000, “Saving Grace” features Brenda Blethyn as Grace, a widow who must cope with life after her husband’s suicide. Grace discovers that her husband has mortgaged everything they own and the banks are ready to foreclose. Faced with impending doom and little working knowledge except her ability to grow plants, she struggles to save her home. Finally her gardener comes to the rescue: Grace will grow marijuana and sell it to a London drug dealer.

The film will be shown on DVD in Jonas 305 at 6 p.m. There is no admission charge and the public is welcome to attend. Free popcorn will be available courtesy of the BHSU Residence Hall Association. For more information contact David Salomon at davidsalomon@bhsu.edu or 642-6249.

CSA Council election results announced - top

CSA Council elections were held recently to elect representatives from Facilities Services, Jonas/Central, the Library and Computer Center, Pangburn, the Student Union, Wenona Cook, Woodburn, and the Young Center.

Janet Bettelyoun was elected from Facilities Services, replacing Lynette Long who will complete her two-year term in April. Sheila Day was elected to represent Jonas/Central, finishing the two-year term vacated by Colleen Gustafson when she left BHSU. Day works in the College of Business and Technology. Linda Allbee was re-elected to serve the Library and Computer Center for another two-year term as was Krista Schroeder, who represents Pangburn Dining Services. Shawn Haug of the Bookstore will represent the Student Union, replacing Dennis Walkins. Corin Humbracht of Campus Day Care was elected to represent Wenona Cook, replacing Deatta Chapel who has served on the council for several years and from several different areas on campus. Shannon Alcorn of Institutional Advancement and Kanda Guthmiller of the Business Office replace Cheryl Leahy and Rebecca Haak who were previously representing Woodburn. Nancy Shuck was re-elected to represent the Young Center.

In addition to the newly elected representatives, Sherri Adams and Lynn Fox each have one year remaining on their two-year term as Facilities Services representatives, and Joanne Wilkening has one year remaining on her term representing Woodburn. Jeanne Hanson continues to serve as BHSU’s representative to the Regents CSA Council.

All representatives (incoming and outgoing) must attend the CSA Council meeting 
April 3, at which time officers for 2003-04 will be elected. Outgoing President Nancy Shuck thanks the members of the current council (Sherri Adams, Linda Allbee, Deatta Chapel, Lynn Fox, Rebecca Haak, Cheryl Leahy, Lynette Long, Krista Schroeder, Dennis Walkins, Joanne Wilkening and Jeanne Hanson) for their exemplary service.  She very much appreciated their cheerful and hard-working support.

Ruch chosen as new SDSMT president - top

Charles Ruch, president of Boise State University, will become the 17th president of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, the South Dakota Board of Regents announced Tuesday, March 11.

Ruch will assume leadership of the Rapid City campus on July 1. He replaces Richard Gowen, who retires June 30 after 16 years as SDSMT president. Ruch has been president of Boise State University for 10 years.

“I was very interested in the work underway here in South Dakota to link higher education and economic development,” Ruch said. “Public higher education has much to offer by way of its research capacity and faculty expertise to South Dakota’s economic development resources.”

Ruch will also focus on new ways to collaborate with SDSMT’s sister institution at Black Hills State University. “South Dakota Tech and Black Hills State have complementary missions,” Regents President Harvey C. Jewett said. “We are anxious to put Dr. Ruch’s leadership, in concert with Black Hills State president Tom Flickema, to work in this area.”

The new SDSMT president has Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in education from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from The College of Wooster (Ohio). Prior to his time at Boise State, Ruch served 11 years at Virginia Commonwealth University - first as an associate dean and dean and for the remaining six years as provost and vice president for academic affairs. His first university assignments came at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a faculty member and department chair.

An active participant in regional and national higher education organizations, Ruch has chaired the Urban and Metropolitan Universities Committee for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. He has also served on the presidents’ councils of the Big Sky, Big West, and Western Athletic conferences and currently serves as chair of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

He is actively involved in the Boise community, where he has chaired the United Way board and the Future Foundation of Boise and has served on the chamber of commerce board. He and his wife, Sally, have four grown children.         

South Dakota students receive postsecondary planning materials from Regents
- top


The families of nearly 56,000 middle and high school students across South Dakota will receive a special mailing this week, with the message: it is never too early to prepare for a student’s life after high school.


The South Dakota Board of Regents is sending the South Dakota CollegePrep planning packet to all public school students in grades 7-12. “The goal is simple - helping South Dakota students prepare for their future by making the right decisions about life after high school,” said Regents President Harvey C. Jewett.


Last year, the state Legislature authorized the Regents to obtain the names and mailing addresses of public school students to inform them about postsecondary education options and career planning. From that beginning, the South Dakota CollegePrep packet was developed. In addition, a comprehensive Web site at www.sdcollegeprep.info contains the same information, plus much more, which can be accessed by anyone. The Web site also provides links to hundreds of resources on postsecondary preparation and planning. In addition, a toll-free telephone number (1-866-COL-PREP) has been set up to answer questions from students or their parents about postsecondary planning.


“This service project is the latest collaboration between the Board of Regents and K-12 education,” Robert T. Tad Perry, the Regents’ executive director said. “The Board has enjoyed a long history of working cooperatively with K-12 educators in this state.” Christie Johnson, executive director of the School Administrators of South Dakota, also praised the collaborative project. “A lot of effort has gone into this, and it is one more way that we can help provide the best possible educational preparation for our South Dakota students,” Johnson said.


Perry also pointed out the intent is not to market a particular university or system, but rather to highlight all the postsecondary options available to South Dakota students. “With 80 percent of graduating high school seniors planning on some type of postsecondary education, South Dakota has ample opportunities at its public universities, private colleges, tribal institutions, and postsecondary technical institutes,” he said.


Advisory councils representing parents and school counselors helped the Regents’ staff develop the South Dakota CollegePrep materials and Web site. In addition, valuable input was received from the Department of Education & Cultural Affairs, School Administrators of South Dakota, South Dakota Parent-Teacher Association, South Dakota Counselors Association, and school superintendents across the state.


Faculty research funds available - top

The Faculty Research Committee has funds available for the current fiscal year. Write a short (about three-page) proposal. Proposal forms are available in the Grants and Special Projects Office, Woodburn 309, or can be printed from the website.

It is anticipated that successful applicants will request support for faculty release time, research equipment, travel to research sites or research support for the production of creative work. Preference is given to new applicants, particularly in the areas of education, business, social sciences and humanities. Applications are now being accepted for faculty release time for Fall 2003. Release time is awarded to full-time faculty who teach on the BHSU campus. The next application deadline is Monday, March 24 at 12 p.m.

The applicants are encouraged to contact the committee members for advice prior to completing their proposals. The members are John Alsup, Earl Chrysler, Tom Cox, Abdollah Farrokhi (chair), Jim Hess, Kathleen Parrow, Shane Sarver, and Rob Schurrer. 

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