Professor named 2014 BHSU Difference Maker

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, August 25, 2015/Categories: 2015









           Black Hills State University professor Dr. Jim Hess, right, receives the 2014 Difference Maker Award from BHSU President Tom Jackson, Jr. Hess, a professor of psychology, was honored during the 1883 Gala, recently, for his $1 million pledge to the University. The 1883 Gala also honored other BHSU contributors that donated more than $1,883 in a calendar year or more than $50,000 in a lifetime. The Gala also raised funds for BHSU scholarships.




Black Hills State University professor Dr. James Hess was awarded the 2014 Difference Maker at the 1883 Gala recently.

The 1883 Gala honored Hess, along with other BHSU contributors that donated more than $1,883 in a calendar year or more than $50,000 in a lifetime. The Gala also raised funds for BHSU scholarships.

Steve Meeker, vice president of University Advancement at BHSU, said the Gala was a huge success, providing the opportunity to honor and thank the University&rsquos dedicated donors, while also raising additional money for BHSU scholarships. The Gala raised nearly $16,000 for scholarships with 170 people in attendance.

The Difference Maker Award is presented to the University&rsquos top donor for the previous calendar year. Hess, a professor in psychology and chair of the School of Behavioral Science at BHSU, pledged a $1 million gift to the University to establish the Make a Difference Initiative. Through the Make a Difference Initiative, in exchange for scholarship funds, students are challenged to develop a sustainable community project that will make a difference in the lives of others.

"Part of the reason I went into teaching is to make a difference in people&rsquos lives," Hess said. "To have the University give me this honor, verifies I made the right choice to become a professor and make an impact on the lives of college students."  

Hess has taught psychology at BHSU for 33 years. His $1 million donation is equivalent to the salary he made during his first 19 years of teaching at the University.

Hess said he hopes to change the culture of scholarship funding through the Make a Difference Initiative, by encouraging students to give back.

"Students getting a college education have the perfect opportunity to go make a difference in the world," Hess said. "The students I&rsquove had a luxury of teaching over the years. It&rsquos amazing the places they go and the difference they&rsquove made in the world."

The first Make a Difference Initiative recipient was awarded in April to Shenae LaCroix, exercise science major from Newcastle, Wyo. LaCroix will use the funds to start a mentoring program called YJ (Yellow Jacket) Friends. YJ Friends will match BHSU student volunteers, or mentors, with a non-college person with special needs. LaCroix&rsquos program would allow community members with special needs an opportunity to have the college experience they might not otherwise get.

Past BHSU Difference Maker awards have been presented to Carol Lundberg, Junior and Ella Schloe, Harvey and Joy Krautschun, Dana and LaDawn Dykhouse Family and Donna Gail McLaughlin.

Hess said the support of student scholarships at BHSU is crucial.

"I want students to believe they can make a difference in the world and set out to do it," Hess said. "If my scholarship funds can do that, it pleases me greatly. I know I am where I am today because of the people that helped me along the way."

For more information on how to contribute to the BHSU Scholarship fund, visit

Number of views (412)/Comments (0)