News Release
Contacts: Robert T. Tad Perry, Executive Director
Janelle Toman, Director of Information and Institutional Research
T: 605.773.3455
F: 605.773.5320

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, April 2, 2003

DSU President Tunheim Plans Retirement

MADISON – Jerald Tunheim, president of Dakota State University since 1987, will retire from the South Dakota public higher education system at the end of the year, Board of Regents President Harvey C. Jewett said. The announcement was made Wednesday on the Madison campus to faculty, staff, students, and community leaders.

“Under Jerry Tunheim’s guidance, Dakota State University found its market niche in higher education,” Jewett said. “Dakota State has evolved into a unique regional institution. Its advanced computer resources and academic programs are designed specifically to meet the needs of business, education, and the health care industry.”

Tunheim came on board within a few years after the Legislature in 1984 changed DSU’s mission to focus on computer and information systems technology, so much of the credit for the university’s successful transformation can be traced to his leadership, Jewett said. “President Tunheim has focused on building a faculty base with diverse backgrounds and experiences,” he said. “Faculty and staff are encouraged to be innovative as they develop and deliver curriculum to students in a variety of settings.”

“I am most proud of the culture we have developed at Dakota State University that embraces new technology and applies it in everything that we do as a higher education institution,” Tunheim said.

During his tenure as Dakota State’s president, the university has seen a 236 percent increase in enrollment, to a total of 2,263 students last fall. The number of declared computer majors on campus also has grown from 109 to 973 students. Computer-related majors now account for about one-half of Dakota State’s degree-seeking students, a rate approximated nationally only by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Except for two years in the late 1980s when he was dean of the School of Mathematical Sciences and Technology at Eastern Washington University, Tunheim has spent his 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.

Jewett said Tunheim would remain as Dakota State’s president at least through the end of this year, and possibly through June 2004, depending on how quickly a search for his successor is completed. The Board of Regents will announce soon a presidential search process and timeline, Jewett said.


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