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BHSU Alumni Association honorees

B. Benning

Beth Benning, a 1973 summa cum laude graduate with a degree in business administration, was recently named 2003 South Dakota Finance Officer of the Year. In 1973 Beth became the assistant finance officer for the city of Spearfish and was promoted to municipal finance officer in 1979. She has served as District 10 chairman and president for the South Dakota Municipal League, was a member of the Governor’s Tax Advisory Commission, and received the Excellence in Municipal Government Award in 1997.

Beth’s other honors include being selected Community Woman of Achievement by Business and Professional Women in 1981, receiving the BHSU Outstanding Alumni Award for the business division and the Spirit of Spearfish Award in 1989, and being named one of the Argus Leader’s “Leaders of Tomorrow” in 1991.

Beth is a member of the Board of Directors for First Western Bank in Sturgis, the South Dakota State Board of Elections, the SDML Workers’ Compensation Board of Trustees, the Spearfish Foundation for Public Education, the Lookout Memorial Hospital Board, Zonta, Our Saviors Lutheran Church, Beta Sigma Phi, and the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation among others. She also remains involved with her alma mater as a member of the BHSU Foundation Board of Directors and a member and past president of the BHSU Alumni Association. She and her husband, Jim, have four children.

J. Fidler

John Fidler, a former hospital administrator who now serves as a senior consultant for M.L. Schwartz and Associates, says BHSU was the right choice to prepare him for success in the healthcare field.

John received his degree in chemistry from BHSU in 1960. A four-year letterman in football and all-conference center and middle linebacker who was active in Science Club, Phi Mu Beta, and choir, John was named “Joe College 1959,” by BHSU faculty and was selected as one of 13 seniors included in “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.”

Throughout his career as CEO of several major hospitals in California and Missouri, John has been a healthcare leader with expertise in developing new services, resulting in increased market share, higher profits, improved productivity and quality improvement. He believes that quality patient-centered service is excellence driven.

He credits Coach Don Young for teaching him the personal commitment and teamwork that has been the foundation for his career in healthcare.

Another professor, Mark Richmond, provided the chemistry instruction, which resulted in a graduate fellowship at the University of Nebraska where John received his master of science in microbiology. This education, along with working in cancer research at M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital and Tumor Institute in Houston, Texas, and receiving his MBA in health and hospital administration from the University of Florida, resulted in the opportunity to direct the strategic planning and construction of “The Hospital of Tomorrow” dedicated by then President Gerald Ford. As administrator of Imperial Point Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the American Hospital Association recognized him as one of twelve innovators in developing community health and wellness services.

As CEO of two hospitals in Los Angeles, Calif., John served on the Hospital Councils of California’s Essential Hospitals Task Force. One of the hospitals was selected as the Best Rehabilitation Hospital in the United States and the preferred provider for Kaiser Healthcare Corporation and Hollywood movie stars. The trauma center provided the majority of the services for the victims of the Rodney King riots.  After being selected from 487 applicants in a national search as president and CEO for a 300-bed medical center in Missouri, John relied on innovative leadership to reengineer patient care services. The medical center received back-to-back accreditation with commendation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), placing it in the top five percent of hospitals nationally.

In his present position John provides operational, financial, and strategic consulting, healthcare facility design, master planning and JCAHO support to hospitals and healthcare systems.

L. McKay

Linda McKay, a 1966 graduate with a degree in business education who was recently named Belle Fourche Teacher of the Year and South Dakota Teacher of the Year, is the recipient of the excellence in education award.

Linda began her teaching career in the Twin Falls School District in Idaho where she taught business to high school students. She also taught in the Morrow County School District of Oregon before returning, in 1977, to South Dakota, where she has held various teaching positions in the Lead-Deadwood, Meade County, and Belle Fourche school districts. Since 1989 she has worked for the Belle Fourche School District, where she teaches business and computer technology to high school students. She is also involved in career preparation and the school-to-career program.

Linda serves as business department chairperson and computer lab/software mentor for students, staff, and community members; advises new teachers on discipline methods, school procedures, educational opportunities, and curriculum; and supervises student teachers and junior and senior field experience students. She is an innovative curriculum developer and has written several grants for start-up vocational programs, classroom equipment, and instruction.

In recognition of her achievements Linda has received the South Dakota State Director’s Award for Innovation and Excellence from the Office of Adult, Vocational, and Technical Education and is a member of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

J. Benning

Jim Benning, owner and manager of Ainsworth-Benning in Spearfish, will receive the special service award. He provides employment for 65 to 130 people, many of whom are BHSU students. His company has worked on many prominent projects including Lookout Memorial Hospital, Spearfish Municipal Services Centre, Spearfish Convention Center, and Premier Bankcard in Spearfish. Their work also includes the BHSU Student Union and current landscaping projects.

His service to BHSU includes the donation of labor to renovate the Institutional Advancement Office, which is home to the Alumni Association, BHSU Foundation and Yellow Jacket Foundation staff members. He also donated the labor to install the new flagpole at Lyle Hare Stadium. Meeker indicated that this past year, Jim purchased a restored pickup with a flatbed for the sole purpose of letting the Alumni Association use it for their float.

Jim, as well as many of his employees, is an active supporter of BHSU.  “Jim Benning and his crew have been incredibly supportive of Black Hills State,” said Steve Meeker, vice president for Institutional Advancement. “Jim’s donation of labor for renovation of the alumni office was a major investment in the university and the Alumni Association. Jim also works with the Alumni Association each year to help construct a Swarm Day parade float and even provides a trailer for our use.”

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