For Immediate Release: Sunday, December 14, 2003
Retiring DSU President Receives Honorary Doctorate
MADISON - Jerald Tunheim, who retires early next month as president of Dakota State University, was awarded an honorary doctorate Sunday for his outstanding record of public service to South Dakota.
The honorary degree, Doctor of Public Service, was awarded to Tunheim by the South Dakota Board of Regents for his "visionary leadership and dedicated service to the people of South Dakota." The degree was conferred at Dakota State University's commencement exercises Sunday in Madison.
Tunheim, who has been Dakota State's president since 1987, will retire from the public higher education system Jan. 4. Except for two years as dean at Eastern Washington University, Tunheim spent his entire higher education career in South Dakota, beginning as an undergraduate student at South Dakota State University in 1958. He holds a bachelor's degree in engineering physics and a M.S. in physics, both from SDSU. After receiving his doctorate in physics at Oklahoma State, he returned to SDSU to teach physics and ended his tenure there 17 years later as professor and head of the physics department.
"His more than 35 years of professional service in the South Dakota public higher education system sets a high bar for future leaders in our state," said Regents President Harvey C. Jewett. "He has helped to make over Dakota State University from a traditional education and liberal arts college to a university that specializes in computer and information systems technology."
Tunheim was recognized for transforming Dakota State's mission, after the Legislature authorized the change in 1984. "During the transition, Dr. Tunheim convinced prospective employers of the new degree programs' value and led efforts to expand DSU programs to off-campus locations and via distance delivery," Jewett said.
Since 1987, master's degree programs have been created in information systems, computer education and technology, and information assurance and computer security, along with 15 new bachelor degree programs. Under Tunheim's administration, Dakota State not only stabilized its declining enrollment but succeeded in increasing the student body from 958, when Tunheim arrived on campus, to 2,295 in the final term of his presidency-an increase of 240 percent.
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