Volume XXVII  No. 25 • June 20, 2003

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Campus Currents is distributed every Friday. To submit an item send it to Campus Currents, Unit 9512 or e-mail it to Campus Currents. Deadline is Thursday at 
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Resignations - top

  • Angela Case, library associate, Library
  • Cheryl Barrett, secretary, Upward Bound

Name of the newest building on the BHSU campus will honor Clare and Josef Meier - top

The newest building on the Black Hills State University campus, which is currently in the final stages of construction, will be known as Clare
and Josef Meier Hall. The facility is
being named in recognition of the six decades of arts leadership provided by the Meiers in providing cultural direction in the Black Hills, the state and region including the establishment and continuous presentation of the Black Hills Passion Play. The name was announced 
at the Gala Celebration of the Arts this weekend.

The Clare and Josef Meier Hall, located in the center of the campus, is an 
$8.25 million building which includes a 300-seat recital hall, choir and band rooms, faculty studios, classrooms, soundproof practice rooms, conference rooms, storage areas, keyboard, 
listening and piano labs and faculty 

The newest building on the campus of Black Hills State University will be named in honor of Clare Meier (right) and her late husband Josef, founders of the Black Hills Passion Play. The family members, including Johanna Meier (center) and her husband Guido Della-Vecchia (left), were recognized at the Gala Celebration of the Arts when BHSU President Thomas Flickema announced the new music academic building will be known as the Clare and Josef Meier Hall. 

The new 44,919 square-foot building will be open for the fall semester.

BHSU President Thomas Flickema cited the Meier family’s contributions to the campus and entire community over the years.

“What could be more fitting than to name this new building after a couple who played such a powerful role in promoting the arts for six decades,” Flickema said. “What better way to preserve the rich heritage of what these two people have accomplished. From this point forward the building will be known as the Clare and Josef Meier Hall, a place of student performances and learning, a place where the public will come to enjoy the continuation of the heritage the Meiers were so instrumental in preserving.”

Josef Meier, who was born in Germany and emigrated to America, brought the Passion Play to the Black Hills in 1932 and it has been in continuous production ever since, giving performances all over the United States and Canada. Six generations of his family participated in the Passion Play that dates to 1242. He began his acting career as a youngster portraying the baby Jesus and later as the adult Christ. Josef performed as the Christus more than 9,000 times spanning more than 60 years. Josef received many honors for his achievements including the South Dakota Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts in 1999 and an honorary degree from BHSU in 1972. He also owned and managed a working cattle ranch north of Spearfish which received awards for conservation efforts. Josef was an avid reader, painter and writer who loved to ride, hunt, swim and be outdoors. Josef died in 1999 at the age of 94.

In 1937, Josef married Chicago actress Clare Hume, who became a member of his company playing the role of Mary the Mother. She continued to participate in the Passion Play for many years.

The first local performance of the Passion Play was held in Woodburn Auditorium on the BHSU campus during the summer of 1938. The cast included Black Hills area actors including E.C. Woodburn, the college president. The performance, which faithfully reconstructs the dramatic events in the last seven days of the life of Christ, played for five weeks that first summer. Working with Black Hills area businessmen, an outdoor amphitheater was constructed and the Passion Play found a permanent home in Spearfish in 1939 and became a major force in regional tourism development at a time when Mt. Rushmore was under construction. For years the Passion Play had two permanent amphitheaters, one in Spearfish and the other in Lake Wales, Fla. The Passion Play retains a permanent amphitheater in Spearfish, where it serves as a powerful cultural experience as well as a major tourist destination. Former Spearfish mayor Bill Sparrow credits the Passion Play as a significant force in the development of the town of Spearfish, noting that that Passion Play was instrumental in getting Interstate 90 to go by Spearfish.

Josef and Clare’s daughter, Johanna Meier, and her husband, Guido Della-Vecchia, assumed direction of the Black Hills Passion Play in 1991. Johanna continues to contribute to cultural education in South Dakota and the Spearfish community through the School of Opera and Vocal Arts, which she started in 1997. Through her dedication and professionalism, this endeavor has become a successful part of the Black Hills State University Summer Institute of the Arts. As the artistic director of the Summer Institute of the Arts, Johanna 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.

“This building provides music faculty, for the first time in the century plus history of this institution, with first-class facilities for instruction and performance, Flickema said. “This building is a key element in our effort to enhance the role of the fine arts in enriching the cultural life of our region,” He indicated that the building name was announced during the Summer Institute of Arts Gala Celebration of the Arts to highlight the importance of the arts in our community.

“Through the Summer Institute of the Arts we are brought back into touch with the rich cultural traditions of this land and other lands. The arts deal with themes of universal significance, they keep us in touch with so many aspects of life. They build a sense of community and aspirations,” Flickema said. “That is what BHSU seeks to accomplish through this program and we are fortunate to find a person who shares this vision, Johanna Meier, who as artistic director, will keep this vision moving forward.”

Following the announcement of the building name, the Gala Celebration of the Arts which a part of the Black Hills Summer Institute of the Arts, featured performances for the art of dancing, the art of music, the visual arts, the art of oral literature and the art of theatre.

Winners of the Young Performers competition, Melody Waring, Spearfish, and Dan Bickett, Rapid City, presented piano performances.

Kristen Baker performed the art of dancing with Kitri’s Variation from “Don Quixote.” Leona WhiteHat, BHSU student and assistant director of the Center for Indian Studies, presented a Lakota storytelling performance explaining the history and significance of jingle dancing.

A visual art exhibition featured artwork by Jim Knutson, BHSU professor of art, and Lisa Howard, Spearfish visual arts teacher. The evening also included a  performance by the Dakota String Ensemble featuring Deb Ventrella on violin, Mary Pochop on viola, Dawn Jensen on violin and Anna Blunk on cello. The art of theatre was represented with two performances of excerpts from Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite” directed by Paul Higbee and performed by Jared McDaris, Elizabeth Baker, James Valone and Donna Peterson.

The Summer Institute of the Arts, an outreach arts program of BHSU, has several remaining public performances including: An Evening of Songs and Dance, June 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Woodburn Auditorium which features students of the vocal arts and opera theatre school presenting a selection of vocal pieces; and A Night at the Opera, June 28 at 7:30 p.m. in Woodburn Auditorium. This is the final performance of the students and teachers of the vocal arts and opera theatre school summer session 2003. The recital will present a selection of opera scenes and arias. There will be a pre-performance picnic at 6 p.m. Reservations must be made by the day before the picnic. There is a free after-performance reception with the artists that is open to everyone attending the performance.

The Summer Institute of the Arts also includes the Art Education Institute June 23-27. This five-day program offers graduate credit through BHSU.

For more information on any of these events call the College of Arts and Sciences at

The Clare and Josef Meier Hall, which is in the final stages of construction on the BHSU campus, includes a recital hall, soundproof practice rooms, faculty studios, classrooms, meeting rooms, acoustically designed choir and band rooms and faculty offices for the College of Business and the department of humanities faculty. The building is named in honor of Clare and Josef Meier in recognition of their arts leadership in the Black Hills, the state and the region for more than six decades.

BHSU accepted as member of Great Plains Cooperative Ecosystem Study Unit - top

Black Hills State University, which recently established a Center for the Conservation of Biological Resources, has been accepted as a member of the prestigious Great Plains Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (GPCESU).

BHSU's strong focus in conservation biology and the new expertise available through the Center for the Conservation of Biological Resources resulted in unanimous approval of BHSU's application by the GPCESU partners according to Christine Lockert, GPCESU representative. The Center for the Conservation of Biological Resources will provide BHSU many research opportunities including creating a state-of-the-art DNA research and analysis facility for local fish and wildlife species.

BHSU joins 11 other institutions and five federal agencies in advancing the mission of the GPCESU through "high-quality science, usable knowledge for resource managers, responsive technical assistance, continuing education, and cost-effective research programs."

Dr. Holly Downing, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at BHSU, noted that membership in the GPCESU will allow BHSU faculty and students to participate in a wide variety of research projects involving the U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Reclamation.

“In the past our science faculty were hired through CESU member institutions. With this membership, we are now able to directly contract with federal agency members,” Downing said. “Through the CESU web page we can find out what research opportunities there are for faculty and students. As a member BHSU will now have a competitive edge over non-member institutions.”

Several BHSU faculty members have contracted to do this type of research in the past including Dr. Brian Smith, who has done zoological species assessments, and Dr. Audrey Gabel, who has recently been contacted by the National Park Service to conduct fungi research.

Current priorities of the GPCESU include determining the impact of biological invasions on existing ecosystem integrity, habitat fragmentation, preservation and/or restoration of native aquatic and terrestrial communities, social and cultural values of natural areas under changing population and land use, and implications of global environmental change on managed and unmanaged ecosystems.

This consortium covers a broad geographical portion of the Great Plains and offers an outstanding group of scientists in grasslands, ecosystems study, and natural resources management for collaborative research and teaching opportunities. The Great Plains CESU is one of ten across the nation.

Black Hills State University receives grant funding for Upward Bound - top

Black Hills State University recently received a $373,786 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to continue funding for the Upward Bound program.

The Upward Bound program at BHSU, under the direction of Carol Gritts, includes a six-week summer residential component during which high school students from across the state reside on the campus to attend basic and advanced college preparatory classes, receive educational and career guidance and counseling, and are encouraged to develop creative thinking, effective expression, and positive attitudes toward learning. The students also tour various educational and cultural sites, explore career opportunities, and meet others who share similar goals.

The purpose of Upward Bound is to increase the academic performance and motivational levels of eligible high school students so these students may complete secondary school and successfully pursue a postsecondary educational program.

During the academic year, services are provided for the Upward Bound students in their target high schools. After high school graduation, students participate in the bridge component of Upward Bound, enrolling in college courses while still participating in the program's nonacademic activities.

BHSU has hosted Upward Bound program since 1968.

Tetreault exhibit featured at Ruddell Gallery - top

Black Hills State University will host a reception June 26 at 2 p.m. for Frances Wood Tetreault, a BHSU alumna and former faculty member, whose artwork is currently on display in the Ruddell Gallery in the Student Union.

A brief program featuring former faculty members, Wanda Bellman and Darleen Young, and Dick DuBois, associate professor of art at BHSU, will begin at 
2:30 p.m.

Tetreault, a 1947 graduate of Black Hills State, taught art at BHSU in the 60s and 70s. Her vibrant and colorful artwork will be on display at the Ruddell Gallery through Aug. 1.

Refreshments will be available and the public is welcome. There is no charge to attend. Contact the Student Union information desk at 642-6062 for more information.

High school students study art at Black Hills State - top

Sixteen high school students from across the state are participating in the Visiting Artist Summer Program
at Black Hills State University this week. The university will host a reception and show of their artwork today at 11 a.m. at Pangburn Hall.

Students attending include Jennifer Hotchkiss, Delmont; Joey Flemming, Hill City; Mike Knutson, Spearfish; Jenni Giavonetti; Martin; Jennifer Kaemingk, Platte; Lacy Peterson and  Bethany Walker, Belle Fourche; Susan Woods and Sahra Aleck, Harrisburg; Shana Wright, Langford; 

Heidi Tangren, Watertown; Donny Leget, Centerville; Nemo Dorn and Tayla Pearson, Mitchell; Clinton Harrison, Howes; Amanda Rausch, Milbank; and Raymond Flood, Oak Creek.

Jim Knutson, BHSU art professor 

Sixteen high school students from across the state recently spent a week learning artistic techniques from Bob H. Miller, Rapid City artist, during the  Visiting Artist Summer Program at Black Hills State University. The university will host a reception and show of their artwork today at 11 a.m. at Pangburn Hall.
who organized the camp, said these students were selected from applicants throughout the region. Applicants for this new program were nominated by high school art teachers and were required to submit photographs of recent work. The students studied batik under the direction of Bob H. Miller, Rapid City, and worked on pastels with Sheila Reiman, a North Dakota artist. Students are encouraged to create several pieces of artwork during the session.

This workshop is sponsored, in part, by the Black Hills Summer Institute of the Arts, South Dakotans for the Arts, the Kennedy Center for the Alliance of Arts Education, the South Dakota Arts Council and the Spearfish Center for the Arts and Humanities.

Opera comes to Black Hills State University - top

In a rare opportunity for this region, Black Hills State University will host several opera events during the final week of the 2003 Black Hills Summer Institute of the Arts.

Dr. Janeen Larsen, BHSU professor of music, will present a lecture titled “Getting Acquainted with Opera: How to Become a Fan” June 25 at noon at the Matthews Opera House to help people appreciate and understand a variety of opera aspects.

Spectators will then have two opportunities to attend operas presented by students from across
the country who are attending the Black Hills Summer Institute of the Arts.
Students attending the opera workshop at the Summer Institute of the Arts at Black Hills State University practice opera performance techniques under the direction of Johanna Meier. The students and their instructors will present two public opera performances next week.

The public is invited to enjoy “An Evening of Song and Dance” Friday, June 27 at 7 p.m. in Woodburn Theater on the BHSU campus.

The following evening, Saturday, June 28, at 7:30 p.m. the students and their instructors in their finale opera performance will present "A Night at the Opera" featuring the second act of Gounod's "Faust." The opera performance will be preceded by a catered picnic on the lawn in front of Woodburn Hall at 5:30 p.m. Reservations are required for the picnic. A pre-opera lecture will be held at 7 p.m. in room 112 of Woodburn Hall followed by the opera performance at 7:30 p.m.

There is a $20 suggested donation for the performance and picnic or a $10 donation for the performance only.

The Summer Institute of the Arts is an outreach arts program of Black Hills State University. For more information or tickets for any of the above events, contact Dr. Holly Downing, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at BHSU, 605-642-6420 or email: hollydowning@bhsu.edu

Young Center hosts many summertime activities - top

The Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center is open for students and community members this summer. The Young Center also hosts a number of university and community events throughout the year. For more information on specific hours and events see www.bhsu.edu/athletics/dyc/hours.html. 

Grant opportunities announced - top

Below are the program materials received June 12-18 in the Grants Office, Woodburn 309. For copies of the information, contact the office at 642-6627 or e-mail requests to grants@bhsu.edu. Fellowship information will also be posted on the Student Union bulletin board near the information desk. 

  • Integrated Research (USDA). The Agriculture Department is inviting applications for research, extension and education activities that address critical emerging U.S. agricultural issues, including human nutrition and obesity. The deadline is June 30 for letters of intent and July 30 for applications. www.reeusda.gov (click on “Funding Opportunities”)
  • Risk Management Research (USDA). The Agriculture Department is inviting applications for partnership agreements that will fund research addressing the need for risk management tools for producers of priority agricultural commodities. The deadline is July 28. www.rma.usda.gov/news/whatsnew/
  • Management and Technical Assistance (SBA). The Small Business Administration is inviting applications to provide business development assistance and training for client executives. The deadline is July 9. www.sba.gov

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 Monday, 
Aug. 18 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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