Black Hills State University recently recognized retiree faculty and staff at a reception on campus. BHSU President Laurie S. Nichols praised the retirees for their dedication to BHSU.

There are over 275 years of service to BHSU from these 12 retiring employees. Retirees for 2021 include:

Jhett Albers, Athletics Director, retiring with 23 years of service

Jhett Albers has served as the Director of Athletics for more than 15 years. Jhett has been responsible for the direct oversight and day-to-day operations of the BHSU Athletic Department and Donald E. Young Sports & Fitness Center.  A Spearfish High School and Black Hills State University graduate, Jhett has lived in the community of Spearfish for 40 years. As Director of Athletics, Jhett was selected NAIA-ADA DAC Athletic Director of the year in 2008-09.  In his full-time role, Jhett successfully lead BHSU and Yellow Jacket Athletics through the transition from NAIA to NCAA DII.  Jhett was also instrumental in securing BHSU’s membership to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in 2012-2013.

Donald Altmyer, Professor, Accounting, retiring with 25 years of service

Don Altmyer has taught Accounting courses in BHSU School of Business. In addition to being a great classroom instructor, Don was an early adopter of asynchronous instruction models, and has updating his online courses taking advantage of many iterations of new technology. In addition to teaching, Don’s leadership with the South Dakota Stock Market Game has positioned BHSU in conversations at the high school and collegiate levels across South Dakota. An additional benefit of this service is Don’s writing and publication of 12 Stock Market Game Newsletters each year.  Don’s service in the community has also been noteworthy, with leadership roles in the Spearfish Optimist Club and the Spearfish Disc Golf Association.  Don was an integral force in developing the “canyon course” locally, listed as the top disc golf course in the state, as well as the BH campus course, which was one of the first on a college campus in the nation.

Steve Babbitt, Professor, Mass Communications, 26 years of service

After earning a Bachelors and Masters of Fine Art in Photography from The San Francisco Art Institute, Professor Steve Babbitt began his full-time career at Black Hills State University in 1995. During his tenure at BHSU, Steve has shown strong and visionary leadership, most notably with his creation of the Photography Program, which has experienced enormous success. Professor Babbitt has also earned a strong reputation for his exceptional teaching and caring mentorship of his students. As an artist, Professor Babbitt has been making photographs and lens-based images for the past 40 years, working with digital and silver in both black and white and color. His photographs can be found in the collections of The Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France; The Getty Museum Library, Santa Monica, CA; The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Japan, The Dahl Art Center and the San Francisco Art Institute, and many others.

Donnelle Culver, Jacket Zone Manager, 18 years of service

Donnelle Culver began working at BHSU January 1988 in the Registrar’s Office.  She assisted many students and faculty with registration, degree requirements, teacher’s certification and graduation. During her 14 years of employment in this role, she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration & Marketing. She later completed her Master’s degree in Business Service Management with an emphasis in Human Resource Management. After 15 years as a HR Director, Donnelle returned to BHSU to manage the Jacket Zone stores in Spearfish & Rapid City. She served on the Spearfish Downtown Association Board to promote shopping local by hosting events and forming camaraderie with the other store managers. Donnelle enjoyed her years at BHSU, especially witnessing the students start to finish as they completed their educational goals. 

Leone Geppert, Budget Manager, 24 years of service

Leone Geppert retired in February 2021 with 23 years of service to BHSU.  In 1998, Leone began her higher education career as an Accountant in Dining Services. In 2005, Leone moved into the BHSU Business Office as an Assistant to the Controller. In the following years, Leone graciously took on roles in the Finance Department, as needed, serving as a Senior Accountant and Grants Accountant before becoming Budget Manager from 2007 until retirement.  In her 14 year career as Budget Manager, Leone was well known across campus as a friendly and helpful contact. With the heart of a teacher, Leone led the University’s Banner User Support group and served on numerous committees. Prior to retirement and continuing today, Leone is involved in many community organizations and events.

Sean Griffin, Senior Security Officer – BHRC, 4 years of service

Sean Griffin started with BHRC Public Safety in January of 2016. His duties included building security, campus safety patrols and emergency response to all medicals and fire alarms.  Prior to his employment at BHRC, he was a Sheriff’s Deputy for the Middlesex Sheriff’s Department in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he served as a Corrections Deputy.  Sean also served in the United States Marine Corps where he rose to the level of 1st Lieutenant. 

Corinne Hansen, Director of University & Community Relations, 31 years of service

Corinne Hansen, who graduated from BHSU with a mass communication degree, began her employment at her alma mater in 1990 in the News Service Department. In the last three decades she has expanded her area of oversight to include marketing, public relations, media relations, print and digital design, the printing center and community relations as well as the University’s website, social media and online presence. As a member of the Administrative Team, Corinne has provided leadership and direction for the University’s communications, marketing, and strategic planning. In her final year, Corinne led the university through a logo re-design exercise, completed a comprehensive audit of all work completed in her office, and from that, developed a more strategic approach to elevate efforts to market the university.

Jim Hess, Professor, Psychology, 41 years of service

Dr. Jim Hess began teaching at Northern State University before moving to BHSU in 1983 where he was instrumental in helping establish and grow the psychology program.  In addition to teaching courses at BHSU, Jim also taught graduate courses for South Dakota State University.  During his 38 years at BHSU, Jim served as a mentor to numerous students and faculty and also provided strong leadership as the Chair of the School of Behavioral Sciences for over 10 years. Jim received numerous awards including the West River Graduate Center Teacher of The Year (1990), BHSU Distinguished Faculty Award (2011-2012), and the BHSU Difference Maker Award (2014). In his continuing efforts to support programs in the School of Behavioral Sciences, Jim personally pledged a $1 million donation (equivalent to his first 17 years of salary at BH) and established the Make-a-Difference Scholarship in 2014. As part of their scholarship, students are expected to implement sustainable projects to help make a difference for those living in their communities. 

Jean Kennedy, Accounting Assistant, 20 years of service

Jean Kennedy has served BHSU as a member of the business office since July 2000.  She started as a Senior Claims Clerk and then moved to an Accounting Assistant.  Jean has spent her time working with departments on their account payable needs, entering request for pays, issuing cash advances and travel reimbursements, as well as working with vendors to update their payment information.  She has enjoyed working with staff and students and formed relationships with many when they come visit her for assistance.  Jean loves BHSU and is seen around town wearing her school colors with pride.  Jean has also enjoyed decorating the business office and making sure it was a welcoming place for students and staff. 

Barbara Looney, Assistant Professor, Management & School of Business Grad Coordinator, 15 years of service

Dr. Bobbi Looney served as an Assistant Professor of Business with a specialty in Managerial Communications, and has provided numerous contributions to the School of Business, its’ students, our campus and the community. Bobbi is a Spearfish native and BH alumna, who brought a rare combination of academic training and professional experiences from multiple business areas to the classroom. Her advising was always intentional and student-centered, and her classes provided skills and professional development opportunities to many business majors. An outgrowth of her teaching success was co-advising the Enactus Student Organization, which included multiple successful competition outcomes at regional and national meetings. Bobbi has also served as Graduate Coordinator for the MBA program, and through her efforts enrollment has increased, and students have identified individual course pathways, internship opportunities, and most importantly successful professional outcomes after graduation.

Tim Steckline, Professor, Speech, 28 years of service

Dr. Tim Steckline was born in Nebraska on an air base and raised in a farming town in Colorado along the South Platte River, with the Rocky Mountains on one side and the Great Plains on the other. Tim earned a BA in Speech and English at the University of Northern Colorado in 1976 and an MA (1980) and PhD (1991) in Rhetorical Studies at the University of Iowa.  In 1992, Dr. Steckline came to Black Hills State University, where he has very much enjoyed his time on campus. Tim’s special interest and research have concentrated on rhetorical criticism generally, and, in particular, the history and literature of the American West, rhetoric of inquiry in specific disciplines, the works of the language theorist Kenneth Burke, anarchism as a means of humane society, and the outcomes of the contest between nature and technology. Dr. Steckline believes strongly in social activism on behalf of causes he cares about.

Jamalee Stone, Associate Professor, Math Education, 14 years of service

Dr. Jami Stone will retire after serving as an educator for 40 years since her graduation from Chadron State University.  Jami taught high school mathematics for 21 years.  For the last 15 years at BHSU, Jami worked as an associate professor of secondary math education. Among her many accomplishments during her tenure as an educator, Jami received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math/Science Training three years running (2015-2018).  In addition, she served as an Albert Einstein Educator Fellow for NASA in 2003.