He was a celebrated academic leader, and Wednesday his loss was felt around the state.
The School of Mines lost its president, Dr. Robert Wharton, Wednesday morning to cancer.
A profound sense of loss weighs heavily on campus– and with professor Sidney Goss who knew Dr. Wharton as a friend and ambitious leader.
"We were in a large meeting of all the faculty and staff a few weeks ago. He pulled that meeting off well, looked tired, but it was the old Bob. We thought he was in remission and doing well," said Goss.
After successfully battling cancer earlier this year, Dr. Wharton was moving forward with plans to build and improve campus facilities.
"He had a vision for a research building of significant size, and was engaged in fundraising for that building. He had a clear vision to enhance quality of academics here on campus," said Dr. Jack Warner, Executive Director of the South Dakota board of Regents.
But even with his life tragically cut short by cancer, reminders of his dedication to academic excellence can be seen across campus.
"You can see the new addition to the science building, the renovated residences, and also the museum that was opened a year ago. These are all physical assets he's been responsible for advancing during his time here," said Dr. Warner.
"His vision was to raise the visibility on a national level while making Mines more of a part of this community,"said Richard Wahlstrom, a friend and colleague of Dr. Wharton's.
Perhaps nothing so marks that ambition toward integration as the expansion of the campus into surrounding neighborhoods.
"Between the school of mines and the east edge of Rapid City a good part of that land has been purchased and renovated. That happened because he was willing to move quickly and make the decision to do that," said Wahlstrom.
"Using all his energy he made great strides in improving the atmosphere around the campus," said Dr. Duane Hrncir, Provost and Acting President at the School of Mines.
Beyond his campus contributions, friends and colleague now reflect on the loss of a true scientist, an inspired leader and a friend
"It was easy to smile in his presence and know you were being led by a great president," said Goss.
School of Mines officials have postponed many of the 'M' week homecoming activities currently scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
The school says flags on campus have been lowered to half- staff.
Funeral arrangements for Wharton are pending.