Volume XXVII  No. 18 • May 2, 2003

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Farrington named interim vice president of academic affairs at BHSU - top

Dr. Dan Farrington, director of grants and special projects at Black Hills State University, has been named interim vice president for academic affairs. Dr. Lyle Cook, current vice president for academic affairs, recently resigned to become provost and vice president of academic affairs at Eastern Kentucky University.

Farrington joined the BHSU administrative staff in 1997 after retiring from Merck Research Laboratories where he served as senior director for animal science research. Farrington arrived at BHSU to lead an increased effort on finding and utilizing external funding sources which has netted a dramatic increase in grant funding from $500,000 in fiscal year 1997 to an expected $2.6 million in fiscal year 2003.

“I am absolutely delighted to have a person with Dr. Farrington’s experience and achievements, both in the academic world and in the private sector, available to fill the crucial position of academic vice president,” said Dr. Thomas Flickema, BHSU president. “He will do an outstanding job for Black Hills State.”

Farrington, who has a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) from Colorado State University (CSU) and a Ph.D. in microbiology and preventive medicine from Iowa State University (ISU), had responsibility for all animal science research manpower and facilities for the conduct and monitoring of clinical trials at Merck. He was also responsible for the direction and control of nine departments in 11 locations throughout the world with a staff of over 140 members and five research farms located in Australia, Brazil, England, Germany and the U.S.

Farrington spent several years as a tenured associate professor of veterinary microbiology at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, where he conducted research in animal respiratory diseases. Farrington’s research has led to three patents for antimicrobial and biological agents. Iowa State University named Farrington the inaugural recipient of the William P. Switzer Award in 1998. Patents from his vaccine research have provided the longest-running royalties in ISU technology resulting in over $3 million for the university’s research foundation.

In 2001 Farrington was called upon by the Department of Agriculture to serve as a consultant in the campaign to eradicate foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom. He has also organized and conducted animal health emergency training courses dealing with animal diseases and the threat of bioterrorism.

After graduating from CSU in 1968, Farrington joined the Twin Falls, Idaho, Veterinary Hospital as an associate veterinarian practicing as a large animal vet. The following year he joined a predominantly equine practice in Valley, Neb., where he provided resident veterinary services to the largest thoroughbred breeding, training and racing farm in Nebraska.

In 1971 he accepted a National Institute of Health fellowship at ISU to begin his Ph.D. studies. His research and dissertation focused on swine respiratory diseases and his minor work was in wildlife biology. He completed his bachelor's degree in zoology at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 1960. After graduating from college, he spent four years in the United States Marine Corps as an artillery officer.

Farrington and his wife, Judy, have three grown daughters: Mary, a physician; Jenifer, a pharmacist, and Sarah, a registered dietitian.

Vice president for academic affairs accepts a position as provost at Eastern Kentucky University - top

Dr. Lyle Cook, vice president for academic affairs at Black Hills State University, has accepted a position as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in Richmond, Ky. He will begin his new job July 1.

Cook came to BHSU as vice president for academic affairs in 1996. Since that time he has been instrumental in many changes and improvements at the university.

“I will certainly miss Black Hills State University,” Cook said. “I’ve enjoyed working with Dr. Flickema. We have made great strides in our efforts to improve the university and attract top faculty. I feel I’m leaving BH in good hands. Lots of exciting things have happened here and many others are in progress. The university is a far better institution than many people in the region know.”

Cook noted he will miss being involved in several recent ongoing developments including the institution of an Honors Program, the growth of the Summer Institute of the Arts, an increase in cooperative efforts with South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, as well as the multitude of possibilities associated with the development of an underground lab in Lead.

The vice president, who earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics, strived to maintain some time in the classroom when possible to keep a connection with the students and faculty. “Teaching is so enjoyable for me and is such rewarding experience. I’ve tried to make time to teach here and if I can schedule it with the demands of the new job, I’d like to continue doing the same at EKU,” Cook said.

Dr. Thomas Flickema, president of BHSU, expressed his admiration and appreciation Cook’s contributions at BHSU. “Dr. Cook has a tremendous opportunity with this position as provost at a campus of 16,000 students, but we really hate to see him go. He has been the driving force behind so many of the academic accomplishments on this campus over the last seven years,” Flickema said. “Dr. Cook has strengthened the quality and numbers of our faculty, stimulated research, fostered the Summer Institute of the Arts, and represented the institution superbly in state and national settings. Vice President Cook is totally committed to academic excellence, and his record at Black Hills State University demonstrates his ability to achieve excellence. He has done a superb job for us and we will miss him.”

Eastern Kentucky University is a regional comprehensive university consisting of five colleges serving approximately 16,000 students. Cook said he is looking forward to the new challenges there.

Prior to coming to BHSU, Cook served as dean of the College of Science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, La. Prior to that he held positions at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho.  Cook received his bachelor’s degree from Southeast Missouri State University in mathematics and his Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University in mathematics.

Dr. Dan Farrington, director of grants and special projects at BHSU, will serve as interim vice president of academic affairs while a national search is conducted to fill the position. 

Hills receives Distinguished Faculty Award as he retires from BHSU - top

“My heart is with this university.” These words, spoken by Dr. Tom Hills, are perhaps the best explanation for the guiding force behind the dedication, loyalty and integrity shown in the actions of the longtime Black Hills State University political science professor. Hills, who is also a graduate of BHSU, was recently honored with the Distinguished Faculty Award and is retiring after 34 years at the university.

Hills has been lauded in many ways for his exceptional dedication to teaching and service through the years at BHSU. This year his peers selected him to receive the esteemed Distinguished Faculty Award.

Hills, in many ways, exemplifies what Black Hills State University is. A dedicated professor, an inspirational and encouraging advisor to students, a trusted colleague and always, as one fellow professor said, “fiercely loyal to South Dakota, Black Hills State University and the students. He has always sought to do what is best to improve BHSU.”

For his exceptional service to students, scholarship, and service, Hills has been admired for his directness and commitment. With the unique ability to convey both the excitement and seriousness of the academics Hills has taught, informed and inspired countless numbers of students. His practical insights into the workings of political parties add a valuable dimension in the classroom.  Hills’ classroom style has been described as “stimulating, substantive and enthusiastic.”

As his longtime friend and colleague Dr. George Earley commented when presenting the Distinguished Faculty Award this week, Hills is qualified for the esteemed award based on a number of factors including the very same qualifications used to elect people to the Roman Senate in ancient times.

“It appears to me that the Distinguished Faculty award should go to the person who has the same qualifications as those elected to the ancient Roman Senate,” Earley said. “Those characteristics were: length of service, depth of experience, gravitas, pietas, and dignitas. Dr. Hills has met all five standards by demonstrating a remarkable record of length of service, depth of experience, academic achievement, love of BHSU, and respect for faculty and students.”

Hills certainly qualifies for length of service as he has been employed here since 1969 and attended as a student before that. From serving as president of the Student Senate when he attended in the late 50s and 60s, to serving as president of the Faculty Senate, Hills has made the most of his time at BHSU and always looked for ways to improve the institution in which he so strongly believes.

In addition to being a distinguished faculty member, Hills has actually been an integral part of the historical narrative of the university. In the 45 years he has been associated with the university, Hills has seen the university go through dramatic changes. One major change is the notable difference in the physical facilities of the campus. When Hills first came to BHSU as a student, the campus consisted of a group of six buildings. He has seen the campus expand dramatically and develop into one of the most beautiful campuses in the state.  Hills notes the addition of two residence halls, Heidipriem and Thomas, as well as the library, the Student Union and Jonas Hall and a walkway to connect the two. More recently of the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center and an eight-building apartment complex has been added to the campus. Currently construction is underway for a new academic/music building that will once again change the physical layout of the campus. Hills looks back on all the changes with pride and satisfaction.

Hills also pointed out the dramatic increase in enrollment over the years. As a student, he was one of 600 students; now he teaches some of the more than 3,600 students currently enrolled. Hills feels that BHSU had the potential to become the second largest university in the state, given a more favorable political situation.

Another noteworthy change at BHSU in the time since Hills has been here is the expansion of the curriculum. Hills is especially proud of the addition of a political science major. While BHSU has a history as a teacher training school, it is now recognized as a regional public institution of higher learning. During every step of the way, Hills was there serving on committees and always doing what he thought was best for the university.

His depth of service is evident by his sole claim a variety of honors and leadership positions held at the university on nearly every level. From service as student senate president to faculty senate president to chairman of the dean’s council, Hills has experienced a tremendous depth of service.  Through the years he has been active on nearly every committee and influential on practically every issue on this campus. He also was always ready to volunteer and participate in other events such as freshmen orientation and advising.

One of the highlights of service for Hills has been involvement with the student Legislative intern program. Hills was commemorated last year for his 25 years of serving as coordinator of the program. Hills feels the Legislative intern experience has positive lasting effects for the more than 100 students who have participated and noted that many of the students have gone on to successful political careers.

“The program gives students the opportunity to get hands-on political experience,” Hills said. “I know quite a number of my former interns have remained active in politics and government since their internship experience.”

In regards to gravitas or weightiness, Hills’ academic record shows a number of impressive honors, assignments, memberships and publications. The list includes receiving a Fulbright Scholar Award for Academic Administrators to go to Germany and Czechoslovakia in 1992; speaking at the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar on Diplomacy at Sarah Lawrence in 1976; presenting at the U.S. Department of State Scholar-Diplomat Seminar in 1981;  attending the summer seminar on national elections in Germany in June of 1999 and many other designations. He is active in several professional and academic associations including the American Political Science Association, the South Dakota Political Science and Public Affairs Association, and serving as a board member of the Chiesman Foundation for Democracy.

The fourth qualification noted for ancient Roman senate is pietas or love for the institution. Hills has demonstrated his love and respect for BHSU in many ways.

Fellow professor Dr. Riley Chrisman perhaps described Hills’ love for the university best when he said, “Throughout the years here Hills has maintained his strong commitment to the university and to the students. No one has had a greater commitment to Black Hills State University. For Tom, Black Hills State lives, it is family, it is a part of him.”

Finally the degree of dignitas or respect is evidenced by the number of honors and awards Hills has earned over the years and the expressions of respect by both students and fellow professors. In the 70s, when Hills served as the Vets’ Club advisor, he earned the title of Outstanding Student Advisor. In the 80s students responded to his dedication and chose him as the Student Senate Outstanding Teacher. One fellow scholar indicated that “Hills has acquired the rare and enviable reputation of being both a demanding and popular instructor.”

Upon hearing of his impending retirement one former student recently wrote to Hills to congratulate him on his professional career and expressed his thanks and appreciation for Hills teaching and dedication.

“I know I echo the thoughts of the thousands of students when I say thanks for being what educators should be. For taking an interest in the development of people and making a positive impact in their lives. You didn’t just recite things out of a book or lecture on what someone else had written. You made us think about how we should be interested and involved in the things that happen in the world around us. You took the real world and brought it into the classroom, and that is something that few do,” wrote Bill Schuttler, Class of ’95, who is now a life insurance service supervisor in Greeley, Colo.

Hills also has the respect of his colleagues who reiterate their respect of his teaching methods and dedicated service. One colleague said, “Tom always had a strong commitment to the students and to BHSU. While he is demanding in the classroom, he is also understanding. He expects his students to produce but is willing to work with them. Throughout the years he has maintained his strong commitment to students. And no one has had a greater commitment to Black Hills State University.”

Hills enjoyed teaching a variety of politics and government classes and may be best remembered by a generation of students for his world politics class, which was a general education requirement for all graduates for many years. He especially enjoyed the challenge of reaching those general education students who many times were not, at first, especially interested in the subject matter.

“My goal was to make students aware of, and hopefully, interested in what is going on in the world today,” Hills said. He also enjoyed teaching many other classes and, looking back, he mentions that constitutional law was one of his favorite courses to teach.

Hills said he first came to BHSU because he was interested in education, and now more than four decades later, he leaves his faculty position still interested in educational issues. His long-term interest in politics and government may move from teaching to actual participation as he is considering some form of political service in the future.

Hills’ entire family is dedicated to education. His mother was a teacher and his three brothers all devoted their lives to education as well. Two of his brothers served as college professors and the other one was a superintendent for many years.

After earning a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Oregon, Hills returned to BHSU as a full-time faculty member in 1969. Hills served 13 years as an administrator at BHSU, as dean of the College of Business and Public Affairs. Looking back Hills says he is certain he made the right decision when he decided to step down as dean and feels the same about this decision to retire now. As he said at that time, “I don’t regret the decision. I regret that I have to make the decision.”

Five years ago, Hills once again devoted his time to his greatest priority – classroom teaching. Now he is retiring from the university and looking forward to having the time to consider a variety of future endeavors.  He would like to do some international traveling and also plans to put some miles on his new Harley Davidson motorcycle. His years of teaching government and politics may come into play as well as he is considering taking an active role in public service by seeking elective office or serving on a state board.

“It is difficult for me to express my affection for this university, the students and my colleagues here. I don’t know what I am going to do without it,” Hills said in the midst of this always-hectic time of preparing for finals and finishing classes.

This year Hills is also making arrangements to leave the university but those who know him know he will never really leave BHSU.

As one professor noted, “Tom has a never-ending commitment to students and the university and we can be sure he will continue to help strengthen our institution in some way, even after he physically leaves the campus—such is his dedication and commitment to BHSU.”

Five longtime faculty members retire at BHSU - top

Black Hills State will lose a century and a half of teaching experience when five long-time faculty members retire this spring. The five, Dr. Tom Hills, Mr. Fred Heidrich, Dr. Mark Gabel, Mr. Richard Hicks, Dr. Don Chastian, are all looking forward to retirement with mixed emotions and planning to continue being involved in their teaching area in one way or another. The faculty were recently honored at a reception at BHSU and will also be recognized at the commencement ceremony.

Professor Fred Heidrich, who has been at the front of business classrooms at Black Hills State University for 28 years, in addition to spending four years here as a student, has mixed emotions as he prepares to leave his academic career.

When Heidrich, 54, graduated from BHSU in 1970 with an undergraduate degree in business, he remembers making the statement that he hoped he would have the opportunity to return to his alma mater to “change some things I didn’t like.”  His tenure of nearly three decades of teaching as well as service on many committees and as interim dean have given him that opportunity, and he is proud of the developments at BHSU.

Heidrich has seen the university, and in particular the College of Business, go through a number of positive changes and has often served in leadership positions to spur those improvements. He has been chair or co-chair of the University Strategic Planning Committee since it was formed and has also served as department chair and interim dean of the College of Business.

Heidrich says he is proud of the way the business programs have evolved and cited the addition of several popular new majors including marketing, business services management and health services administration.

“When I look back, I see that the business curriculum has changed from being primarily focused on secretarial and teacher education to a diversified management aspect,” Heidrich said.

Over the years, Heidrich’s teaching philosophy has revolved around his strong belief  “that students learn best by doing.” In the classroom, Heidrich relied on many hands-on case applications that gave students the opportunity to learn by working with actual specific cases.

Although Heidrich says he doesn’t believe students have changed very much over the years, he thinks that expectations of students have changed. “Students will meet whatever level of expectation you demand of them,” Heidrich said; his former students will attest to the fact that he continually set high standards for them and they learned a great deal as a result.

There are a number of factors at BHSU and in the educational setting overall that convinced Heidrich that the time is right for him to retire and focus his energies in a different venue. Heidrich cited the successful culmination of recent accreditation visits; the construction of a new building on campus; and changes in the way classes are delivered brought on by the advent of technology; as some of the deciding factors.

The professor pointed out several highlights of his professional career including the opportunity to visit the New York Stock Exchange, the improvements in the business curriculum, his service on the Strategic Planning Committee, and the honor of being named the Distinguished Faculty member by his peers.

“It’s been a great ride. It has been a challenging and rewarding experience and this is a great time to be retiring,” Heidrich said.

Heidrich isn’t sure what he is going to be doing once he retires but knows that “given my nature I’m sure I will find another job.” He mentioned that he is interested in consulting, writing test banks and several other opportunities. Whatever the future brings, Heidrich knows he will miss the university and is looking forward to the next step of his life with anticipation and nostalgia.

“BHSU has been such a part of my life for so long; it is gratifying to see the changes, and now it’s time to move on,” he said.

Research has been the key to Dr. Mark Gabel’s teaching success through the years and research will continue to be an important part of Gabel’s life as he makes the transition from professor in the classroom to professor emeritus. Gabel is retiring this spring after 22 years of teaching science classes at BHSU.

Gabel, 52, sees research as a vital component for faculty to stay current in their field and feels that “involving undergraduates in research opportunities is probably the best form of teaching there is.”

Gabel should know. He has been providing this ultimate form of teaching for science students at BHSU for decades. Gabel expressed great satisfaction in working with the many quality students who go through the science program and feels a sense of accomplishment when some of these students later come back to thank the faculty for their efforts. One such student, Jeremiah Smith, recently expressed his appreciation of Gabel’s influence on his education and continuing scientific research.

“Dr. Gabel gave me my first taste of biological research as a junior at BHSU and I have not turned back since. More than anything, Gabel’s dedication to biological research and uncompromising commitment to academics influenced me to pursue my graduate education,” said Smith, who is now attending graduate school. “The lessons learned in Mark’s lab guide my research still today. The most important of those lessons is that one should take full advantage of their educational opportunities and the necessity for persistence in biological research. These lessons are as true in life as they are in academia.”

Although humble about his own contributions, Gabel has been a major force in the on-going improvements in the university science department and is proud of the accomplishments of the entire department, especially in the last 10-15 years.  He says that being a part of those changes and seeing the improvements has been the most meaningful part of his career. He feels that BHSU “has increased the quality of science instruction tremendously and I am  satisfied to be associated with our faculty who do such a great job of teaching, research and service.”

Gabel feels there are a number of factors that contributed to the significant enhancement of the science department. He cited the leadership, the recruitment and retention of quality faculty members, and noted that the location of the university is a natural draw for science study. “Almost any science person would want to be here because it’s so diverse and there is so many research opportunities,” Gabel said.

Mike Barnes, hatchery biologist at the McNenny Fish Hatchery who has worked with Gabel and his students on a number of research projects, feels that  Gabel has been critical in improving the statute and focus of the science department at BHSU.

As a non-university colleague of Mark, I have always been extremely impressed with Mark’s humility and graciousness. It is obvious he is extremely intelligent, an accomplished scientist, and a very good teacher. He is a most decent human being, a pleasure to be around, and a fun guy to cooperate with on various research projects. I consider it an honor to have worked with Mark in the past and hope that we can continue to work together in his new status as an emeritus professor,” Barnes said.

Gabel plans to be involved in a variety of research projects in the future and is already making plans for a summer research project with a student. He also plans to work to improve the campus herbarium and explore future research and grant writing opportunities.

Don Chastain, who earned his undergraduate degree at BHSU and then returned as an English faculty member and later began teaching technology classes, is retiring after 34 years at the university.

Chastain, 63, originally attended BH with the intention of transferring to finish his architectural degree elsewhere. A summer stint with an architectural firm convinced him architecture was not the vocation for him so he focused on something he had always liked.

“I really enjoy sharing what I know so I changed my major to teaching,” Chastain said. Since then he has had ample opportunity to share some of what he knows to the hundreds of students in his classrooms. He first joined the BH faculty as an English teacher in 1969 and later moved to teaching technology classes since he had a background in that area and has retained an active interest in the field.

“At first I was a little leery to go from teaching English to technology,” Chastain said. “I wasn’t sure it would be as challenging and fulfilling as the literature classes were and wondered if it might be a little boring.” He soon found his new classroom was anything but boring, and his new courses turned out to be an ongoing challenge especially with the advent of computers and constant changes in technology.

“Dr. Edwards brought in a Hewlett Packard computer and said this is how you turn it on; after that, it was up to me to figure out the rest. It has been anything but boring since then. It’s a challenge.”

Chastain pointed out that the technology staff must learn new software on a regular basis since they change software frequently to keep up with the industry. He noted that many of the programs are quite complex and have a high learning curve.

Chastain said he has enjoyed working in the academic setting. “I really enjoy what I’m doing here. It’s not a job, it’s a profession for me and I know that it [teaching] impacts peoples lives.” Chastain has taken that responsibility seriously and strived to make his classes meaningful for students.

He complimented fellow colleagues for their abilities. “I’ve always been fascinated by people who do things really well, rather it’s a cab driver in a city or an artist creating masterpieces, it’s a delight to be around people who do things well.” He feels he has had that opportunity while working at BH. He feels the academic environment is unique, and while it has its problems, there are definite advantages as well.

The longtime professor noted that he has seen fluctuations in the ability and desire of students through the years but overall thinks students have remained pretty much the same and compliments the students on their motivation and desire to learn. “Our students are here for class and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to teach them. The general attitude of the students is the same. They come here to learn.” And students have had the opportunity to learn from someone who looks forward to sharing what he knows every day they spent in the classroom with dedicated professor Chastain.

Chastain noted that he is especially satisfied that a course he developed many years ago, Biblical Literature, is still being taught today.

Retirement might be a misnomer for Chastain as he has already agreed to teach part-time next year and is also coordinating the TTL session on campus this summer. He thinks those activities may help him adjust to retirement. He also has plans for many other activities including helping his wife with her business.

Soft-spoken art professor Richard Hicks has made strong statements in the classroom through the years as he relied on a multi-tiered approach to teaching the importance of fundamentals, skills, creativity and responsibility for students.

“I always tried to present the fundamentals and worked to help students develop artistic skills and encouraged development of creative abilities,” Hicks said. At the same time Hicks believes it is important to “hold students responsible” for accomplishing the goals of the class. “Ultimately the students decide if they want to be responsible but I think that’s an important part of the learning process.”

After 34 years in the classroom, Hicks has seen a multitude of changes both on campus and in the students. He noted the increased number of non-traditional students and the fact that, to their credit, students are more aware of class policies, grading and those types of issues.

Hicks, 67, said he enjoys teaching many different types of classes, especially art history, and that through the years three-dimensional design evolved as one of his favorite classes and is currently his specialty area.

Hicks said one of the best aspects of his job has been the “long-term good working relationship” with fellow longtime BHSU artists and professors Dick DuBois and Jim Knutson. “The three of us get along well and that makes everything better.” Hicks joined the BHSU staff in 1970. He earned a bachelor’s degree in art from Albion College and a master’s of fine arts from the University of Iowa.

He feels his time teaching at BHSU has been “a good experience. I’ve enjoyed the students and the opportunity to teach. Now it’s time for me to do something else.” He is looking forward to retirement as a time to continue doing artwork as well as spend more time participating in the volunteer activities he loves. Last fall, Hicks taught an art class for troubled teens at the Canyon Hills Lutheran Center. That experience has inspired him to look at additional volunteer opportunities when he retires this spring. He has plans to do volunteer work teaching art to special groups and is considering giving tennis lessons for the city. He also plans to take a German class and continue singing with his church choir.

Retention efforts are successful at BHSU - top

The increased emphasis on retention at Black Hills State University has shown positive results after the first six months of formal implementation according to Joe Valades, retention director at BHSU.

“Since we started this fall, results are optimistic,” Valades said although he indicated that the real measurement of improvement would be available after the program has been in place for at least one full academic year. The retention rate of first-time, full-time freshmen from the fall 
2002 semester to the spring 2003 semester was 86.59 percent compared to 81.13 percent from the same time last year and 79.93 the previous year according to Valades.

“The fall-to-fall retention rate will show the big picture,” Valades said. He indicated that the retention rate for first-time freshmen for the following fall was previously 51 percent; the retention office has implemented a number of initiatives seeking to improve that rate.

“This is a university-wide effort,” Valades said. “It’s been a coordinated effort among several university offices and departments to anticipate the needs of students and provide referrals and services for students.” Valades sees the role of the retention office as one of intervention collaboration and providing referral information about various campus services to students.

“This is a matter of the university developing retention intervention as a means of improving the educational experience for all students,” Valades said. “We want to make sure students feel they got a good education here and their academic career has been a good experience for them.”

The main components of the retention plan include a first-year experience program that links general classes into a smaller learning and social community; coordination and referral to student assistance opportunities such as tutoring and special needs assessment; working with the records office to determine why students transfer; intervention efforts through residence life to reach students who are struggling; and an increased effort by the Career Center to work directly with students with undeclared majors to help them determine the focus of their education. The retention office also continues to make direct personal contact with students who are struggling academically or socially and provide support and referral options.

According to Valades, many students struggle with the transition to college, not only in the academic setting, but with their new living environment as well. These students, who are facing separation from their family and community, sometimes need help normalizing the process. “We tell them it takes a year to adapt and also emphasize the behaviors and attitudes necessary to be successful,” Valades said.

Retention director Valades recently referred first-year student Eliza Bollock to the Career Center to take the FOCUS Career Inventory after discovering she was unsure of her academic plans. Bollock found the inventory helpful in defining what she wants to do and has since declared a major in pre-physical therapy.

“The inventory showed strong points in working with people,” Bullock said. “It gave me some insight about what I am good at and helped me decide what to do.” She recommends the inventory to other students who are uncertain about their major or their future plans.

Sarah Chase, career counselor at the Career Center, explained that the FOCUS inventory is a computerized career-planning inventory that was implemented late last fall. Since that time more than 80 students have participated in the program. After students complete the inventory, career counselors follow up with individual student visits to go over the results and provide career guidance.

“We look for underlying themes in occupations and find common themes in the inventory results to help the students focus their academics,” Chase said.

“We also let the students know that the inventory isn’t an end-all answer. It isn’t going to provide a clear-cut answer of ‘this is what you are going to be’ but rather is a tool to guide them and give them ideas. From there we can show students what is available and refer them to other resources in that field.”

Chase indicated that students from all academic levels take the inventory. Beginning students most commonly take the inventory but higher-level students also request the inventory as they sometimes begin to question their academic path. Students with undeclared majors are targeted for the FOCUS program to help them deal with the uncertainties.

“If we can help students define a specific area of interest, the students are more likely to persist, continue their education and be successful,” Chase said.

A new program, known as Black Hills Experience under the direction of Dr. Sharon Strand, was recently received a Bush grant to continue. The first-year experience program aims to link academic classes and emphasize the importance of life-long learning skills for first-year students while targeting perceptions of isolation, especially for students from small rural high schools. The students are arranged into small groups with linked classes, which provides both academic and social benefits to the students. The students are encouraged to make connections to events in the campus and community. Statistics after the pilot program this fall showed increased retention and success rates for students in the first-year experience program. Students in the program were retained at a 93.26 percent rate compared to an 85.11 percent rate for non-BHE students. These students also had higher grade point averages than the non-BHE cohort.

The retention director works with Ven Thompson, director of institutional research, to identify at-risk students by using nationally recognized indictors such as increased absences, poor grades and undeclared majors, along with low ACT scores or limited admission.

“The institutional research component is essential,” Valades said. “Ven can access data right at the beginning of the semester and then we make contacts and referrals throughout.”

The retention office relies on a web-based computer program known as the Program for Academic Success (PASS) to receive and utilize information from faculty members concerning individual students.

“The PASS system has established an excellent line of communication and we are then able to follow-up with students,” Valades said. This semester alone, Valades has received more than 200 notifications from faculty and staff alerting him to students in need of academic assistance.

The retention office has also been working with the university records office to determine why students transfer and how it may have been possible to better meet the needs of these students.

The student assistance center, which provides tutoring, continues to be the biggest referral source for the retention office. Valades advises students about the availability of tutors and other academic resources at the student assistance center. Students who qualify are also referred to student support services.

In addition, staff members with residence life are also instrumental in identifying students who are discouraged either with academic progress or in personal matters.

Future plans for the retention effort include analyzing data on students’ involvement in organizations and in leadership roles to see how those activities may affect retention. National statistics show that students who are involved in activities report feeling a stronger connection to the university community and have a higher rate of success in college. Valades would like to find out if that holds true for students at BHSU as well. It may be helpful to let students know that participation in organizations can have a positive effect on their education as well as a positive effect for their professional development.

Sarah Chase assists Kristi Buckley with the FOCUS career inventory program.  Buckley, who is a pre-nursing major considering a switch to a business major, said she found the program helpful because it brought up points she hadn’t considered before. Joe Valades, retention director, referred Buckley and many other students who are unsure of the academic plans to the Career Center.

Black Hills State University will hold 145th Commencement May 10 - top

The 145th Black Hills State University commencement is scheduled for Saturday, May 10 at 10 a.m. in the gymnasium of the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center.

The commencement address will be given by Mr. Randall Morris, South Dakota Board of Regents member. Dr. Patrica Fallbeck, 2002 Distinguished Faculty member, will give the faculty charge to the graduates. Diplomas will be presented by Dr. Thomas Flickema, BHSU president, and April Meeker, BHSU records director.

Five retiring faculty members will be formally recognized during the ceremony. The 2003 Distinguished Faculty Award will be presented to Dr. Tom Hills, political science professor. 

For the first time in nearly 20 years, two honorary degrees will be awarded. An honorary doctorate of humane letters will be presented to both Guido S. Della-Vecchia and Johanna T. Meier.

Music will be provided by the BHSU Brass Ensemble, under the direction of Christopher Hahn, and Kristine Schaffer, Adam Lawson, Andrea Farr and Isaac Waring.

BHSU President Thomas Flickema will host a reception for the graduates and their families and friends, and BHSU faculty and staff members immediately following the commencement ceremony. The reception will be held in the Young Center Field House.

An honors breakfast will be held prior to graduation at 7:45 a.m. in the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union Jacket Legacy Room. The cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude graduates will be honored. Also, the highest-ranking female and male graduates will be recognized. Jennifer Thurm, human services and sociology major from Rapid City, will be honored as the highest-ranking female graduate and Desmon Mitchell, a psychology major from Spearfish, will be honored as the highest-ranking male graduate.

BHSU will award honorary doctorate degrees to Della-Vecchia and Meier - top


Black Hills State University will award honorary doctorates of humane letters to both Guido S. Della-Vecchia and Johanna T. Meier at the 145th commencement ceremony May 10 at the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center on the BHSU campus.

The married couple were chosen for this honor on the recommendation of the BHSU music faculty, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the university commencement/awards committee, the faculty senate, and the vice president for academic affairs. The South Dakota Board of Regents of Education conferred to grant the honorary doctorate degrees.

“Mr. Guido Della-Vecchia and Ms. Johanna Meier were chosen for this honor in recognition of the achieved distinction within their profession and the outstanding contributions to the people of South Dakota. The couple’s distinguished operatic career, their contributions to the community of Spearfish, and dedication to the advancement of the arts make them important and outstanding role models for the people of South Dakota,” Thomas Flickema, BHSU president, said. “The two have had an important positive influence on the arts in this community as well as the entire state of South Dakota. These honorary doctorates will bestow upon Mr. Della-Vecchia and Ms. Johanna Meier 
the recognition they so richly deserve.”

BHSU has awarded only 11 honorary degrees in its history and this is the first time in nearly 20 years that an honorary doctorate has been awarded. Josef Meier, Johanna’s father, received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from BHSU in 1972.

After Della-Vecchia retired from his career as a classical singer in 1980, he and Meier made Spearfish their permanent home in 1984. In 1991, the couple assumed ownership of the Passion Play, where Della-Vecchia continues to sing as the official Passion Play soloist. Della-Vecchia also performs frequently in the community and region.

Meier assumed the role of CEO and director of the Black Hills Passion Play in 1991. The play was brought to America from Germany by her father, Josef in 1932 and has been in continuous production ever since, giving performances all over the United States and Canada. The first local performance of the Passion Play was held in Woodburn Auditorium on the BHSU campus during the summer of 1938. The production played for five weeks that first summer. Working with Black Hills area businessmen, the Passion Play found a permanent home in Spearfish and an outdoor amphitheater was constructed in 1939. For years the Passion Play had two permanent amphitheatres, one in Spearfish and the other in Lake Wales, Fla. At present, the Passion Play retains a permanent amphitheatre in Spearfish, where it serves as a powerful cultural experience as well as a major tourist destination.

Meier continues to contribute to cultural education in South Dakota and Spearfish community through the School of Opera and Vocal Arts, which she started in 1997. This endeavor has become a successful part of the Black Hills State University Summer Institute of the Arts through her dedication and professionalism. As the artistic director of the Summer Institute of the Arts, Johanna Meier brings in accomplished performing artists from across the United States to further the musical education of aspiring opera singers. The performance of these students attracts growing audiences and represents a substantial step in the realization of her dream of making Spearfish a cultural center.

Della-Vecchia has also been a fervent supporter of the arts, particularly on a regional basis, and has been the artistic consultant and co-founder of the Black Hills Chamber Music Festival in South Dakota. In addition, he has assisted in the artistic direction of the Summer Institute of the Arts.

Della-Vecchia, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1930, began vocal studies at the age of 18. In 1951, during the Korean conflict, he joined the army and was sent to Germany, where he sang as an Entertainer in Special Services throughout the country. Della-Vecchia later refined his musical art by going abroad again to study with several of Italy’s foremost maestri at the Cherubini Conservatory in Florence and at the Florence Comunale. Beginning in 1961, Mr. Della-Vecchia made extensive concert and operatic tours throughout the United States, including appearances at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center. His earliest performances were in the extremely demanding role of Fernando in Favorita and the role of Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff in a production staged and conducted by the eminent Boris Goldovsky. Additional roles in his repertoire include Cavaradossi in Tosca, Rodolfo in Boheme, Pinkerton in Butterfly, Enzo in Gioconda, and the title role in Andrea Chenie. Mr. Della Vecchia demonstrated great versatility; he sang the exacting role of Tamino in Mozart’s Magic Flute at Avery Fisher Hall with the Little Orchestra Society, and the role of the supremely Italian tenor Alfred in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, which he performed during the 1979-80 season in Memphis and Columbus in a production starring Beverly Sills.

Meier, a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, made her debut with the New York City Opera, where she sang for 10 years, and went on to an extraordinary international career as a member of the Metropolitan Opera for 15 years, achieving recognition as one of the foremost Wagnerian sopranos of her era. Meier sang with most of the major symphony orchestras in the United States and abroad, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, l’Orchestre de Paris, the Munich Philharmonic, the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, and the famous Concertgebouw at the Holland Festival. She has appeared two times on PBS Great Performances, first in the title role of Vannesa and then with the San Francisco Opera in the world premiere of Dangerous Liaisons. She also appeared in a televised BBC concert at Royal Albert Hall in London.

Her European appearances also included performances at the Vienna Staatsoper, the English National Opera, and with the opera companies of Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Paris, Rome, Venice, Madrid, Barcelona, Zurich, and the Netherlands, to name only a few. Meier was the first American ever to sing the role of Isolde in Tristan and Isolde at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany. She also appeared with the Canadian Opera, and the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, as well as in Japan, Mexico City, Israel, and at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico.

Students prepare for finals week at Black Hills State University - top

Black Hills State University is offering students a variety of ways to help deal with the stress of finals week as the spring 2003 semester comes to a close. Several special activities are underway to help students do their best during this stressful time.

Students, as well as faculty and staff, were encouraged to take a break for quite time in a specially created “comfort zone” in room 124 of the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union. The “comfort zone” features healthy refreshments and a peaceful music for students and faculty to relax a bit as they prepare for a busy week of final exams and end-of-semester activities. The “comfort zone” is sponsored by the BHSU Alcohol/Drug Prevention Committee, Bacchus & Gamma Peer Educators, the UP Team, the Health Awareness Committee, United Ministries, and the Student Assistance Center.

Students “kneading to unwind” were given the opportunity to have a massage by Tommi Jo Krautchun of Cowgirl Essence Massage in Spearfish. Krautchun, a 1998 BHSU alum, returned to her alma mater to offer massages to students suffering from the stresses of finals week.

In addition, some students in the residence halls will be receiving “Finals Survival” packages compliments of their parents. The Residence Hall Association offered parents the opportunity to purchase the kits designed to fulfill the needs for both healthy snacks and some junk-food cravings of students as they put in long hours studying and completing class projects.

For students studying late, the student affairs office is sponsoring a midnight breakfast Monday, May 5 from 10 p.m. to midnight at the Student Union marketplace. Breakfast nourishment will be provided. 

Hills donates Chastain sculptures to BHSU library - top

Black Hills State University retiring political science professor, Dr. Tom Hills, recently donated a set of Civil War sculptures created by former BHSU employee Pat Chastain to be displayed at the E.Y. Berry Library and Learning Center on campus.

Hills explained that he decided to gift the sculptures to BHSU as a symbol of his dedication and commitment to the university.

These sculptures mean a lot to me, and giving them to BHSU is indicative of how much I love this university,” Hills said. “BHSU has 
Retiring professor Tom Hills (left) presents a set of Civil War sculptures created by former BHSU employee Pat Chastain (center) to Arnie Hemmingson, chief information officer (right).
been an extremely important part of my life for 38 years, four years as a student and 
34 years as a faculty member.
It is my intention to present them as a gift to my alma mater, Black Hills State University, to be placed in the library.

Hills purchased the set of 15 Civil War figures some years ago and has since displayed them in his office. The figures were sculpted by Chastain, who worked at BHSU for 
13 years before retiring in 2001. When creating these sculptures in 1995, Chastain relied on Hills’ expertise to verify details and craft realistic sculptures.

Chastain said, “I knew Tom was a Civil War history buff, and he helped me immensely with these sculptures.” Chastain noted that the uniform details, which can't be indicated by color because all the sculptures were produced in crushed pecan shell and dyed red, were vital for authenticity.

My husband, Don, did a lot of research for me. He and Hills reviewed the sculptures as they were being crafted and verified that the details were accurate. Without their help, I would never have been able to make these sculptures.

When the sculptures were created, Hills was one of the first to purchase a set. This set is now remain on the BHSU and be displayed in the coffee shop area of the library.

Chastain has continued to create sculptures in the years since she retired. She is currently working on a commissioned sculpture of a Civil War drummer boy that will eventually be bronzed and marketed on the East Coast.


Senator Tim Johnson visits BHSU campus - top

Senator Tim Johnson, after a tour of Black Hills State University this week, said he is impressed with the changes on campus and the progress of the university.

“I am impressed with what the university has accomplished and what BHSU is doing for our state,” Johnson said following a meeting with university officials including Thomas Flickema, president; Dr. Lyle Cook, vice president of academic affairs; Dr. Dan Farrington, director of grants and special projects; and Dr. Ben Sayler, director of the Center for Advancement of Math and Science Education (CAMSE).

Johnson first toured the former Central elementary building, which now houses CAMSE, where Sayler explained the professional development opportunities in math and science education that BHSU offers to teachers throughout South Dakota and the surrounding region. Sayler described the center’s efforts to enhance the preparation of future math and science teachers and discussed a summer program that CAMSE hosts for highly motivated and talented high school students.  Johnson also viewed the CAMSE resource center which is full of instructional materials for teachers.

The Central building is also in the planning stages to be the site of a DNA research center. BHSU received a Congressional earmark for $630,000 through the efforts of Johnson last year to establish a DNA research center that will provide testing and research for the region. The center, known as the Center for the Conservation of Biological Resources, will do wildlife testing and research which will provide economic, educational and community outreach opportunities for the entire region. Farrington explained that the center will provide much-needed research and testing services for the region as well as provide training and employment opportunities in molecular biology and analytical chemistry.

Farrington also outlined the recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant that the university received to study disparities in Native American health issues. BHSU is making plans for the new project EXPORT, with a $1,050,000 three-year grant was awarded to a consortium led by BHSU in partnership with the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council (MT-WY TLC) in Billings, Mont., the Project HOPE Center for Health Affairs in Lead and the Black Hills Center for American Indian Health in Rapid City. The university will rely on the strengths of three diverse areas, the Center for Indian Studies, the business and health care administration department, and the wellness management department, to conduct this research.

Johnson noted the extraordinary service outreach by the university through the years.  “This university has provided some excellent outreach in the past especially with Native American issues, and these recent developments sounds like continuations of that exceptional service,” Johnson said.

Johnson also visited a science department laboratory and was introduced to a group of anatomy lab students. The group then toured the new music/academic building which is under construction in the center of the BHSU campus. Project manager Wayne Musil indicated that construction is progressing well and is currently approximately two weeks ahead of schedule. The new building, which will provide enhanced studio facilities for music students and faculty as well as classrooms and offices for the College of Business faculty, is expected to be ready for the fall semester at BHSU.

Senator Tim Johnson, second from the left, visits with Black Hills State University officials recently. Pictured are President Thomas Flickema, Johnson, Darrell Shoemaker, Johnson's West River director, Dan Farrington, and Lyle Cook.



Ruddell Gallery features Student Art Show - top


The annual spring juried Student Art Show is currently on display at the Ruddell Gallery in the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union. The show, which includes a variety of work by Black Hills State University students, will be on exhibit through Saturday, May 10. For more information contact Jim Knutson at 642-6104.



College of Arts and Sciences holds research symposium - top

Heather Hansen presents "Arabs and Commies and Nukes, Oh My: Propaganda, Stereotypes and the Perception of Evil in American Society" at the College of Arts and Sciences 2003 research symposium held recently at Black Hills State University. Twelve students participated in the symposium. 

South Dakota Stock Market Simulation announces winners - top

The South Dakota Stock Market Simulation (SDSMS), hosted by Black Hills State University, recently announced the winners of its 10-week-long competition, which ended Friday, April 25.

Twenty schools and 141 teams of students, including 15 teams of middle school students from Colegio Jorge Washington in Cartgena, Colombia, participated in the spring 2003 simulation program. The teams of three to five students started the trading period Feb. 18 with $100,000 in “play” funds. They then researched companies and bought and sold shares on-line.

The top teams in the high school division, listed with their ending portfolio values, were: first place, Corporate Avenger from Watertown, $138,443; second place, Pine Ridge Thorpes from Custer, $137,428; third place, The Kamakazies from Watertown, $133,591; fourth place, Invincible Flying Hatchet from Emory, $131,044; and fifth place, Neckrophiliacks from Custer, $120,691. The Corporate Avenger was also named the top team in the state with a return on investment of 38.4 percent for the 10-week trading period.

The top teams in the middle school division, listed with their ending portfolio values, were: first place, Jeff Dungan’s team from Colegio Jorge Washington, $116,800; second place, the Eagles from Colegio Jorge Washington, $108,754; and the Fishsticks from Edison Middle School, $108,203.

The fall 2003 SDSMS will begin Monday, Oct. 13 and conclude the 10-week trading period Friday, Dec. 19.

The SDSMS program is an educational tool that motivates students to learn in subjects such as social studies, math, business, computers, economics and accounting. It is sponsored by the South Dakota Council on Economic Education and the Centers of Economic Education at Black Hills State University and the University of South Dakota.

Contact Don Altmyer, SDSMS coordinator, at donaltmyer@bhsu.edu or visit the SDSMS website at www.sdakotasms.com for more information.

Nearly 300 attend Festival On the Green - top

Organizers estimate that nearly 300 people attended the annual Festival On the Green last week at Black Hills State University. The event, which is held annually, included live music from area bands, arts and crafts booths, and food vendors.


Music/academic building nears completion - top

The  new music/academic building is nearing completion on the BHSU campus. Work is progressing on the interior as the exterior takes shape. The $8.25 million building will accommodate the music department as well as the College of Business offices. The area dubbed "office alley" gives a preliminary view of some of the offices. According to Wayne Musil, project manager, construction is ahead of schedule and going well. Construction workers plan to remove the construction fence the week after finals and begin landscaping work on the new campus green area.


Grant opportunities announced - top

Below are the program materials received April 10-30 in the Grants Office, Woodburn 309. For copies of the information, contact our office at 642-6627 or e-mail requests to us at grants@bhsu.edu. Fellowship information will also be posted on the Student Union bulletin board near the information desk.

  • Commerce Department. Economic Development (DoC). The Commerce Department invites applications to plan and build capacity and infrastructure, conduct research and undertake technical assistance to promote a favorable business environment, boost employment and increase private investment.  Deadline: Ongoing until funds are spent. www.commerce.gov (“Economic Development,” and scroll down to “Notice of Funding Availability”)
  • Agriculture Department. Rural Business Opportunity Grants. The Agriculture Department is inviting applications for rural business opportunity grants to improve economic conditions in rural communities by supporting technical assistance for business development and economic development planning.  Deadline: June 2 to file applications with the state rural development offices.  www.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html (click “Browse,” then “2003,” and the publication date); and www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/busp/rbog.htm.
  • National Institutes of Health. Effects of Violence (HHS/ED). The National Institutes of Health, the Administration for Children and Families, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Education Department’s Office of Special Education Programs are inviting proposals for investigations of the effects on children of exposure to domestic and community violence, war and terrorism.  Deadline: June 25, 2003 and 2004 and June 24, 2005.  http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-03-096.html
  • Department of Health and Human Services. Senior Medicare Patrol (HHS/AoA). The Health and Human Services Department’s Administration on Aging is seeking applications to train seniors to serve as expert resources to detect and stop health care error, fraud and abuse. Deadline May 22, 2003.  www.aoa.gov/egrants; www.aoa.gov (scroll down to “AoA Highlights”)
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development. Youthbuild (HUD). The Housing and Urban Development Department will invite applications for projects to help disadvantaged youths (ages 16 to 24) finish high school and gain job training by building and rehabilitating housing for homeless and low-income individuals. Deadline: June 6, 2003. www.hud.gov (click on “Grants”)
  • Justice Department. Children’s Justice Technical Assistance: Native Communities (DoJ). The Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime is inviting applications to help Native American tribes develop a multidisciplinary approach to investigating, prosecuting, treating and advocating for victims of child abuse and child sexual abuse. Deadline: May 29 for required electronic applications. www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/fund/pdftxt/CJAindian.txt
  • National Science Foundation (NSF). Biological Research Collections. The National Science Foundation is inviting proposals to support biological collection, enhancement, computerization of specimen-related data and other activities to ensure materials necessary for research in a broad area of biological sciences.  Deadline: July 18 for full proposals. www.nsf.gov/pubs/2003/nsf03566/nsf03566.htm

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 spring 2004. Release time is awarded to full-time faculty who teach on the BHSU campus. The next application deadline is Friday, 
May 16 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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