Legends & Leaders

Legends & Leaders Distinguished Alumni 

Honoring those alumni who have distinguished themselves as leaders in the SDSU community and beyond. Join us to celebrate the legacy and leadership these outstanding distinguished alumni have shown. These individuals will receive prestigious recognition from their alma mater for their accomplishments and achievements. They join 318 other alumni as part of the Sherwood O. Berg Distinguished Alumni Hall of Honor, located in the Tompkins Alumni Center.

Friday, October 23rd, 2014

3:00 PM - 4:30 PM : Distinguished Alumni Reception

  Location: TBD

5:30 pm : Social Hour

Lobby at Swiftel Center, 824 32nd Avenue, Brookings, SD

6:30 pm : Legends & Leaders, Distinguished Alumni Awards Banquet & Presentation Ceremony

Daktronics Banquet Rooms at Swiftel Center, 824 32nd Avenue, Brookings, SD

*Schedule subject to change.


Eight chosen for 2014 SDSU Distinguished Alums

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Eight alums from five decades will be honored as the 2014 class of Distinguished Alumni at South Dakota State University prior to Hobo Day.

Those to be honored are:

  • David Anderson, class of 1966, Loveland, Colorado;
  • S.K. Dash, class of 1970/'73, Edina, Minnesota;
  • Leon Ellwein, class of 1964/'66, La Jolla, California;
  • Roxie Romness Foster, class of 1967, Arvada, Colorado;
  • Jake Krull, class of 1960, Watertown;
  • Michael Relf, class of 1988, Durham, North Carolina;
  • Lisa Richardson, class of 1991, Sioux Falls;and
  • Frank Blalark, class of 2002/'04, Lafayette, Indiana.

The distinguished alumni banquet is 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24, the evening before Hobo Day, at the Swiftel Center. Tickets are $30 ($10 for age 12 and younger). They can be purchased from the SDSU Alumni Association at 605-697-5198 or 888-735-2257 or online at www.statealum.com. Reservations and payments are due by Oct. 16.

There also is a free public reception at Tompkins Alumni Center, 905 Medary Ave., from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 24.


Anderson_David B_BW_2007

David Anderson

Service to SDSU

"Few individuals have contributed to SDSU in a more unique or compelling way than David Anderson," said Steve Erpenbach, president of the SDSU Foundation.

That's because Anderson, an animal science graduate, is sculptor of 8-foot tall bronzes of Weary Wil (unveiled 2011) and Dirty Lil (2013). They stand duty on the north side of the Student Union, just outside the Hobo Day Gallery.

He undertook the work as a member of the SDSU Foundation, which he has served on for seven years.

Anderson had a career meriting distinguished alumni honors before becoming a sculptor in his retirement. The former SDSU Students' Association president earned a master's degree and doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, spent four years as an Army pilot and then began a career in animal health.

The bulk of his career was in the research division of Elanco, which is owned by Eli Lilly Co. His focus was on the discovery and development of products to improve the efficiency of livestock production with specific emphasis on the physiology and metabolism of swine. He currently is an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Animal Science at Colorado State University.

He was president of the American Meat Science Association, served on the board of directors of the American Society of Animal Science, and served on the foundation boards of both organizations.

Raised on a livestock and grain farm near Hector, Minnesota, Anderson and his wife, Carol, a speech therapist, have two married daughters, Jacquelyn of Oakland and Kristin of Portland and and three grandchildren.



S.K. Dash

Professional Achievement

A graduate student from India, Dash is known by his initials and the company he founded in 1979-UAS Laboratories, a leading manufacturer of probiotics with headquarters in Wausau, Wisconsin, and distribution into more than 50 countries.

He obtained his master's in nutrition and doctorate in nutrition and biochemistry from SDSU in 1970 and 1973, respectively, and during that time was very involved with the International Student Association as well. While serving as president of the International Student Association, he helped more than 300 international students come to SDSU. After graduation, Dash was hired by the State of South Dakota as a food and drug specialist and later he became the director of food and drug. He left the good-paying government job to found his own probiotic company in Minneapolis in 1979. Probiotics are live microorganisms that can provide health benefits when consumed. Probiotics have been licensed by the USDA since the 1950s to treat E. coli infection in pigs, but the therapy was overshadowed by antibiotics, Dash said. He learned about the product, did his own research and found that probiotics were 97 percent effective in combating E. coli infections in pigs. That encouraging research led him to found UAS Laboratories, which commercialized a strain of probiotics for which UAS now holds a U.S. trademark. Dash introduced quality control standards to the industry and became chair of the National Probiotics Products Committee because of his expertise in probiotics and concerns about honesty in labeling and quality control. Dash got in at the ground floor of the probiotics market, which in 1979 generated $10 million globally. By 2015, it is predicted to be a $35 billion industry, Dash said. Consumer awareness has grown from 5 percent in 2004 to 81 in 2011. Dash's probiotic innovation and philanthropy have earned him Distinguished Man of the Year awards in USA and India. He is now chairman of UAS Laboratories and an adjunct professor in the SDSU Department of Health and Nutritional Sciences. Dash and his wife, Kalpana, live in Edina, Minnesota. They have two sons, Raj and Dave. They are both married and live in Minneapolis and San Jose, California, respectively.


Ellwein, Leon 2014

Leon B. Ellwein

Professional Achievement

Ellwein used his mechanical engineering degree from State to become one of the world leaders in ophthalmology. An education that began in a one-room country school near Roscoe extended to a doctorate in industrial engineering from Stanford and advanced management training at Harvard. He has provided scientific leadership in eye research projects around the world and has helped develop FDA guidelines. Currently, he is a special volunteer with the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health. From 1991 to 2007, he held a senior advisory role at the National Eye Institute, where he helped strengthen efforts to understand and treat the causes of vision loss and blindness worldwide. One of those efforts was the restructuring of a contract between the National Eye Institute and the World Health Organization, which opened the way for funding epidemiological research in developing countries and eventually led to successful cataract surgeries in China, Brazil, Nepal, India and other countries. Letters supporting Ellwein's nomination as a distinguished alumni come from doctors in Brazil, China and India, all calling him a world leader in ophthalmology. A Chinese ophthalmologist who worked closely with Ellwein on a study in Guangzhou, wrote, "This work provided the evidence needed to motivate the Lions Club International to launch the SightFirst China Project, under which more than $60 million (USD) were invested to save sight for more than one million patients throughout rural China. "Ellwein and his wife, Sarah (Nelson), class of 1965, have two married sons, Charles, of San Francisco, and Todd, of Des Moines, and four grandchildren.


Foster, Roxie

Roxie Romness Foster

Professional Achievement

An expert in the assessment and treatment of children's pain, Foster has been principal or co-investigator on more than 20 research studies on pain, several funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health. Recently retired, she held a joint appointment from the University of Colorado and Children's Hospital Colorado. In 2000, she was selected as a fellow, the most prestigious honor in nursing, in the American Academy of Nursing.At the hospital's pain center, she provided direct pain-relieving care for children with recurrent and long-term pain. The team she co-directed provided rapid response to staff who had urgent patient pain concerns, helping staff revise the plan for care for pain treatment. Academically, she was co-editor of the textbook "Family Centered Nursing Care of Children," which was awarded American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year in 1990. The book focused on the holistic care of children within the context of the family and with a particular focus on providing home care. Also, serving as editor, Foster guided the "Journal for Specialist in Pediatric Nursing" from a fledgling journal to one with international impact. In retirement, she continues as editor-in-chief. Writing on behalf of Foster's nomination, Karen Miller, the former vice president of nursing at Children's Hospital Colorado, stated, "One of the hallmarks of success for Dr. Foster's research program was her ability to involve members of other health-care professions in addition to nurses. Dr. Foster developed teams of clinicians who worked together to manage the most complex patient-care situations." Raised on a farm in northwest South Dakota near Hettinger, North Dakota, Foster and her husband, Ron, have two daughters, Kristen Overstreet and Andrea Foss, and six grandchildren.


Krull, Jake

Jacob J. Krull

Service to South Dakota

Krull left an impact on his university, his state and his profession. Krull joined the SDSU Foundation board in 2003 and served as chairman of the board of governors in 2009 and 2010. He was vice chair when the group approved a six-year, $200 million fundraising campaign. Krull kept the board moving ahead despite a severe economic downturn that hit in 2009. He also had a 26-year career in the South Dakota Army National Guard, retiring as brigadier general in 1989. Also a leader in the insurance business, Krull eventually became president of National Farmers Union Insurance in Denver. He entered the insurance business in 1963 after spending two years in the U.S. Army. His father had sold the family farm a couple of years earlier and Krull returned home to Watertown to work with his father, J.E., in the Farmers Union Insurance Agency. He sold policies and worked with customers for 21 years, always qualifying for the incentive-based trips, except for 1972, when he first ran for the state Senate. Krull served five terms before deciding not to seek re-election in 1982. In 1984, Krull was promoted to state manager. For the next five years, he dramatically increased the professionalism of the agents with many going from part-time to full-time agents, resulting in increased production and better service for the policyholders. From 1989 to 2001, he served as president of Denver-based National Farmers Union Insurance, turning a financially stressed company into a consistently profitable one with a "AA" rating from A.M. Best Company. He and his wife, Phyllis (Skillman) returned to Watertown to retire in 2001. They have two sons, Kevin and Tom.


Relf, Michael

Michael Relf

Professional Achievement

Relf is a nationally recognized HIV/AIDS nurse clinician, scientist and leader, who in 2008 was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing-the highest honor in nursing. While serving as president of the HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board, he led a successful effort to develop a national certification exam in advanced HIV/AIDS nursing for advanced practice nursing. Relf also worked with colleagues from six southern African countries in the development of the essential nursing competencies related to HIV/AIDS for nursing endorsed by the International Council of Nurses. He now associate dean for global and community affairs at the Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, North Carolina. He joined Duke in 2008 after serving as the chair of the department of nursing at Georgetown University. His research has focused on the psychosocial aspects of HIV/AIDS. To date, he obtained more than $5.9 million in external funding to support his work. The results of his work have appeared on the front pages of the Boston Globe (Dec. 18, 2002), The Washington Post (May 30, 2005) and the Toronto Star (Feb. 15, 2003). The scholarly work of the Rapid City Stevens High School graduate also has been cited in a report by the World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine. Since becoming assistant dean at Duke in August 2008, the number of underrepresented groups has grown to constitute between 25 and 30 percent of each bachelor of nursing class. Back at SDSU, Relf was appointed to a three-year term on the SDSU Foundation Council of Trustees Jan. 1, 2013, and more recently was appointed to the College of Nursing's Dean Development Council. Raised in Black Hawk, Relf and his partner, Shawn McKenna, a lawyer, reside in Durham, N.C.


Richardson, LIsa

Lisa (Lutterman) Richardson

Service to South Dakota

The Brookings native has served as executive director of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council since January 1997 and the South Dakota Corn Growers Association since October 2000. During her tenure, corn production has nearly tripled from 326 million bushels in 1997 to 812 million bushels in 2013. Ethanol production has exploded from 6 million gallons to over a billion gallons of production.The impact on SDSU by the corn organizations has been equally impressive with nearly $8 million going to State while Richardson has been their director, according to Steve Erpenbach, president of the SDSU Foundation. More than $4 million has gone directly to SDSU to support research while $3.6 million has been contributed to the SDSU Foundation. During her tenure, association membership has quadrupled, going from 400 to 1,600, and revenue has grown by 1000 percent. Her oversight of the utilization council includes collection and distribution of a $5 million annual budget. Richardson was intimately involved in raising money, finding sites, promoting ethanol and all legislative changes that assisted in growing the industry. She was instrumental in the creation of the South Dakota Corn Investment Fund, which was organized to provide capital to farmer-owned, value-added, corn-proceentures in South Dakota. Prior to 1999, South Dakota struggled to finance new-generation co-ops. "South Dakota did not have a farmer-owned ethanol plant and several attempts to raise equity for one failed," Erpenbach said. Prior to joining the ag organizations, Richardson was a field representative for U.S. Sen. Larry Pressler. The Brookings native holds a degree in economics. She and her husband, John Richardson, have two daughters, Suellin and Sarah Richardson.


Blalark, Frank

Frank Blalark

Outstanding Young Alumni

In a span of 10 years, Blalark has gone from minority student recruiter at SDSU to registrar at Purdue University. The history major worked at SDSU while pursing his master's degree in counseling and human resource development with a specialization in administration of student affairs programs. After his year at SDSU (2003-04), he spent two years at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota) as an area director in residential life, as the assistant director of campus life, and was at the University of Minnesota from 2006 to 20013. He was director of student services for the College of Allied Health Program in 2007-08, associate director of the Office of Registrar in 2007-08, and director of the Office of Registrar 2008-13. On Nov. 1, 2013, Blalark became registrar at Purdue, which has an enrollment of nearly 39,000 students. Blalark was recruited to SDSU to play football and the defensive back from Las Vegas became a four-year letterman. He turned serious about academics when he learned that a 2.5 GPA was required for the teacher education program. At that point, "his bright lights came on and he impressed his adviser (Larry Rogers) to the extent that he began to talk with Frank about graduate school," according to Ruth Harper, a professor in the counseling and human development department. She adds, "One of the many uniquely valuable traits Frank possesses is an orientation to building and maintaining quality relationships wherever he goes. He is genuine, caring and goes the extra mile on a regular basis to keep in touch." Blalark has a daughter who began kindergarten this year.


If you would like to nominate someone for the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards please click link below.

When you have completed this form, please attach supporting information and return to:

SDSU Distinguished Alumni Awards, Box 515, Brookings, SD 57007-0299 or submit your nomination by

email to alumni@statealum.com

905 Medary Ave., Brookings, SD, 57007
(605) 697.5198 or toll-free (888) 735.2257

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