BHSU honors 15 retiring employees for 430 years of total service

Black Hills State University honored 15 employees as they retire this year from their service with the University. The employees were recognized during the annual Employee Awards Reception held on campus recently.

There are approximately 430 years of service to BHSU from the following 15 retiring employees:

Hasina Ahmad, coordinator of student service, 16 years of service

Ms. Hasina Ahmad retired from Black Hills State University in June 2016. Hasina earned a B.S. in composite accounting and a M.S. in business services management at BHSU. She has filled positions in various departments during her years at BHSU including program coordinator for the Master of Science in Strategic Leadership, accounting assistant in the business office, distance education coordinator in Educational Outreach, and student services coordinator in the Office of Academic Affairs, where she worked until her retirement.

Dr. Leonard Austin, professor of educational psychology, 20 years of service

Dr. Leonard Austin has demonstrated 20 years of remarkable dedication as a teacher, scholar, mentor, and advisor to BHSU students. He has made considerable contributions to BHSU through his work in the field of educational psychology and has published three books. Len has served as Department Chair for the Secondary Education and Certification Programs and has offered a critical service-learning component through his work on the BHSU Teammates program. His contributions have helped raise BHSU student participation to include over 90% of the School of Education's students. Len advises undergraduate and graduate students, including volunteering at student registration, Prep Days, the Teacher's Fair, and campus-wide advising events. He has also provided scholarly mentorship for student research at the BHSU Research Symposium and the TIE conference in Rapid City.

Patty Clarkson, program assistant in the College of Education, 33 years of service

Ms. Patty Clarkson retired from BHSU in June 2016 after serving the University for over 30 years. Patty started as administrative secretary in Institutional Advancement in 1983 and filled various roles until she transferred to the College of Education in 1997. Patty was a senior secretary and moved to program assistant for the Dean of the College of Education, where she served until her retirement.

Ramona Collins, registration officer, 44 years of service

Ms. Ramona Collins began her 44-year career at BHSU in June 1971 working with student teachers. In June of 1973, she resigned to stay home with her newborn twins. In August of 1974, she accepted a position as secretary for the Department of Education and Psychology. Fifteen years later, she was offered the opportunity to supervise the newly-formed Secretarial Support Services. From there, she worked in the Business Office and later in the Enrollment Services Center. Her final move was in September 2003 when she accepted a Registration Officer position in the Registrar's Office, where she stayed until her retirement on July 29, 2016. Ramona will be remembered as a kind, caring, and dedicated employee. She made many friends over the years among faculty, staff and students.

Jace DeCory, assistant professor of history/American Indian Studies, 33 years of service

Ms. Jace DeCory has been on the faculty of American Indian Studies at BHSU since 1984. She received her B.A. from the University of North Dakota and earned an M. Ed. from SDSU. She also completed graduate course work from the University of Washington in Anthropology and Indian Studies. In her 33 years at BHSU, she has taught a wide range of classes in American Indian art, history, culture, and contemporary issues. She is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and her research is in the areas of American Indian Women, elders, art, and traditional healing. Jace has served as president and as secretary of the North American Indian Women's Association (NAIWA). She has given numerous papers and presentations and is regularly invited to other university campuses. This March, she was invited to Harvard University to take part on a panel discussion regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. Jace received the Distinguished Faculty Award for 2014.

Sheryl Holman, information specialist, 28 years of service

Ms. Sheryl Holman has been a dedicated employee of Black Hills State University for 28 years. She began as a graphic designer for the University Printing Center before moving into a graphic design position with Marketing & Communications and into her most recent position as information specialist under University & Community Relations. Sheryl was a member of the BHSU Marketing & Communications team that won two Silver ADDYs at the 2013 American Advertising Federation's Black Hills ADDY Awards and the University Area Award in 2010. Always pleasant and willing to offer innovative solutions and helpful suggestions, Sheryl will be missed by the many departments she worked with across campus.

Ralph Hoover, facility services, 22 years of service

Mr. Ralph Hoover started working for Black Hills State University as a custodian in December 1994. He took care of Wenona Cook for many years, later being promoted to Facility Worker. When Ralph moved to the night shift, he worked in several buildings on campus: Dining Services, Jonas Science & Jonas Academic, E.Y. Berry Library and the Life Sciences Laboratory. Ralph was a dedicated employee. He was dependable and a tremendous asset to the summer projects. Ralph retired in December 2016.

Jean Johnson, assistant professor of management information systems, 35 years of service

Ms. Jean Johnson, assistant professor of Management Information Systems (MIS), was hired at BHSU in 1987 and will retire in May 2017. Jean earned an M.A. in Mathematics with a computer science emphasis in 1981 from the University of South Dakota (USD), a B.S. in mathematics from USD in 1979, and has completed additional coursework from the University of Wyoming in computer science. Jean has delivered numerous presentations and led workshops, worked with colleagues on grants and sponsored research, and served as a co-author on a published article and conference proceedings.

Marilyn Luscombe, senior accountant in the Bookstore, 38 years of service

Ms. Marilyn Luscombe had an outstanding 38 years of service to the University Stores and BHSU. Her entire career was spent in the University Bookstore. Marilyn brought a great attitude to work every day. She quickly became my right-hand person, confidant, and go-to individual. BHSU was extremely fortunate to have such a great employee dedicated to serving faculty, staff, and students. Everyone who came to the store was greeted with a warm smile, a reassuring voice, and a sincere attitude. She was a major part as the store earned several awards including Outstanding Service, Community Service, Economic Impact, and two University Awards for Excellence & Community Service.  In 2016, she capped it off with the Spirit of BHSU award.

Norma Perry, facility worker, 35 years of service

Ms. Norma Perry started working at Black Hills State University in 1981. When first hired she worked in Dining Services as a salad maker for the first couple of years, later being assigned as a cook for the next 24 years. She moved to Facilities Services in 2007. She started as a custodial worker in Jonas Academic, later working as a facility worker in the Student Union before retiring in 2016. She enjoyed working with her coworkers and taking care of the students, faculty, and staff at BHSU.

Dr. David Post, instructor of biology, 15 years of service

Dr. David Post retired from BHSU in spring 2016. He earned a Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.S. in Entomology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a B.S. in Zoology from Arizona State University. He had served as an instructor at BHSU since 1998. Prior to teaching at BHSU, he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. At BHSU, he taught numerous courses including general biology, evolution, anatomy, and invertebrate zoology. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been an article reviewer for many science-related journals. David has delivered invited professional presentations, co-authored over 20 articles, and received a patent.

Cynthia Raysor, senior secretary in the Office of Sponsored Programs, 36 years of service

Ms. Cynthia Raysor started with the state of South Dakota in September 1980 working in the Bureau of Finance and Management as a secretary before becoming an administrative assistant to the budget director. When her family relocated to the Black Hills in March 2002, she took a position working at the front desk in the Department of Labor until she retired "for the 1st time" in the summer of 2008 that retirement lasted all of seven weeks and she returned to work at BHSU from August 2008 - October 2016 as a senior secretary.

Eileen Thomas, senior secretary in Student Services, 25 years of service

Ms. Eileen Thomas retired from BHSU in January 2017 after 25 years of service to the University. Eileen began her tenure in January 1992 when she was appointed as a secretary with Upward Bound. In October 2000, Eileen was appointed as secretary within Career and Student Services. In 2003, she was promoted to senior secretary, where she would continue to serve another 12 years in Student Services. In June 2015, Eileen encountered marked change as she served in interim capacity as the campus VA Certifying Official until August 2016. Eileen concluded her employment with BHSU through a brief stretch of service within Facilities Services.

Dr. Pamela Wegner, professor of speech and theater, 23 years of service

Dr. Pamela Wegner has been on the faculty at BHSU since 1994. She received her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Speech and English Education, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Theater. In her years at Black Hills State University, she has directed more than 30 plays. She regularly serves as costume designer for University performances and has acted in numerous theatrical productions on campus, in the community, and in the region. Pam has provided significant and lasting service to the BHSU theater program, taking students to the regional competition of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival each year. At this competition, she not only coaches student actors, directors, and designers, but also frequently presents papers and serves as judge and respondent. Pam is known for her engagement with students, beginning with their first visit to campus.

Steve Wynia, assistant professor of instructional technology, 26 years of service

Mr. Steve Wynia, assistant professor of Engineering Technology at BHSU, is retiring spring 2017. He has 26 years of service in the South Dakota Board of Regents system - 16 years as a faculty member at BHSU and 10 years as a faculty member at SDSU. Steve earned a master's degree in Industrial Management and a B.S. in Electronics Engineering Technology from SDSU. He also earned several professional licensures and certifications and holds professional memberships related to technical education. Steve has served as a key program coordinator and champion for the area of Engineering Technology at BHSU.