South Dakota Mines to hold in-person commencement ceremony

Published: May. 6, 2021 at 10:42 AM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - South Dakota Mines will hold an in-person commencement ceremony beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 8, 2021. The ceremony will take place in the Barnett Arena of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

This is the university’s first in-person commencement since the start of the pandemic. Participants are encouraged to wear masks and to social distance. Those who wish to view the ceremony online can register here and join via Zoom.

The event includes a total of 375 graduates including four students receiving their associate degree, 290 students receiving bachelor’s degrees, 67 master’s graduates, and 14 doctoral degrees recipients.

43 of those taking part in the ceremony are graduates of the 2020 school year who were invited to join this year’s commencement following the pandemic-related cancelation of last year’s events. The names of the graduates and more detailed biographies of honored guests, can be found in the commencement program.

This year’s student speaker is Rosalia Dawley, an industrial engineering and engineering management major from Marshalltown, IA. Dawley served as the Student Association (SA) Senate Vice President during the 2020-2021 school year. During her time at Mines Dawley also served as an orientation leader, Vice President of the Institute of Industrial and System Engineers student group, and a student leader on the “Not Here, Not Anywhere” sexual assault awareness campaign.

Dawley was a crucial student voice on the South Dakota Mines COVID task force where she represented the students’ interests and safety. She helped facilitate the creation of a hygiene bank in conjunction with the campus food bank and she worked to broaden the conversation of student mental health issues on campus and other projects to support a healthy campus life. During her college career, Ms. Dawley completed internships with Stover Controls, in Marshalltown, IA, and Union Pacific Railroad in North Little Rock, AR.

The University will award three honorary doctorate degrees during the ceremony. The recipients will be Tony Jensen, who retired in 2020 from his position as President and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Gold, Inc. Royal Gold is the leading publicly traded precious metals royalty company. Becky Hammon, a Rapid City native, will receive her honorary doctorate after serving seven seasons as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, and previously having served as the head coach of the Spurs Las Vegas Summer League. Finally, Pat Burchill will be honored for his distinguished 43-year career with US Bank in Rapid City, before retiring in July of 2020.

Two students will be awarded posthumous degrees. Houston Wagner will receive a master’s degree in geology and geological engineering. Grayson Young will receive a bachelor’s in industrial engineering and engineering management.

Dr. Patricia Mahon, vice president for student development and dean of students, will be awarded emeritus status. Mahon retires this summer following 21 years at the university.

Mines will also award both the 2020 and 2021 Guy E. March Medals. The annual medal is given to a graduate who exemplifies the spirit of Dr. March through positive interaction with students, the institution, and Mines alumni. The 2020 March Medal award winner is Dr. Scott Kenner and the 2021 March Medal award winners are Cliff and Debra Bienert.

Mines will also celebrate the 50-year graduates for both 1970 and 1971. Each spring graduates celebrating their 50th reunion are invited back to take part in the commencement ceremony.

Those who wish to view the graduation ceremony online can register to view the virtual event live here.

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