BHSU alum receives honorary doctorate, shares successful career with public

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, May 12, 2015/Categories: 2015









           Black Hills State University alum Michael Shann received an Honorary Doctor of Public Service during the 2015 spring commencement ceremony at BHSU May 9. Shann has had a successful career in the entertainment industry, producing large-scale events, including the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony.





Black Hills State University alum Michael Shann shared his experience and offered professional advice to BHSU graduates during the spring commencement ceremony May 9.

Shann received an honorary Doctor of Public Service during the ceremony. Shann has built an impressive career over the years, producing large-scale entertainment events around the world, including the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony. In addition to the award, Shann held a convocation on May 8, sharing his experience working on the Olympic ceremony.

"Mr. Shann, we&rsquore so proud of you and all that you&rsquove accomplished," said Dr. Rod Custer, provost and vice president for academic affairs at BHSU. "This is the highest honor bestowed by the University."

After receiving his award at commencement, Shann addressed the BHSU graduates at Saturday&rsquos ceremony.

"Life is not a sprint, it&rsquos a marathon," Shann said. "You&rsquore starting it off right by taking a moment to appreciate, to be recognized and to enjoy what you&rsquove accomplished so far."

As many graduates begin careers or internships, Shann offered some professional advice &ndash get a business card and start networking.

"What you need to start from the very beginning is your network. People you will meet and the people that will meet you will help you move forward in your career. Experience is very important," he said.

Shann has a variety experience and has built a large network of colleagues, which he attributes to the education and confidence he received at BHSU.

"I had a great deal of confidence. I had so many opportunities to do just about anything," Shann said. "That&rsquos what propelled me."

During his convocation on May 8, speaking to BHSU staff, faculty, students and the Spearfish community Shann also spoke about his career and the opportunities that arose from networking.

Shann provided a background of his 45 years in the entertainment field, starting from the beginning at BHSU, where he was actively involved in the theater program.

Shann&rsquos career in the entertainment industry began with stage management. He began his career with the Walt Disney Company as a stage manager eventually becoming the director of entertainment development for Walt Disney Creative Entertainment. Shann compared developing an international show to the magical feeling of creating a stage production in the Woodburn Theatre.  

After working for the internationally known organization for more than 20 years, Shann developed a large network of colleagues. That networking eventually landed him the opportunity of a lifetime &ndash a chance to develop the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Shann spent much of his convocation sharing his experience in Russia and creating the closing ceremony, which he created with four former Disney colleagues.  

Shann shared pictures and video clips from the Winter Olympic arena, performers and the Sochi community. He described the elaborate scenery, encounters with the Russian president and the excitement and nerves that come with the final, live performance of the ceremonies, aired worldwide.

During his time there, he faced challenges including long commutes and language barriers.

"Not many people spoke English," he said. "I didn&rsquot speak Russian it wasn&rsquot easy."

Shann spent two months in Russia while producing the ceremony. By the end of his stay, Shann said he could point out items on the menu, order a taxi and speak "right" and "left."

"That&rsquos it. It&rsquos a tough language," he said.

Shann shared stories of the other producers, athletes and community members he met while in Russia, as well as answered questions from those in attendance.

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