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SDSU honors 6 as Distinguished Alumni

Six graduates of South Dakota State University stretching from 1916 to 1990 have been selected for the 2020-21 class of Distinguished Alumni.

They are:

  • Cleveland “Cleve” Abbott ’16, deceased
  • Ron Alverson ’74, Wentworth
  • Keith Corbett ’75/M.Ed. ’87, Brookings
  • Mary Kay Helling ’77/M.S. ’82, Brookings
  • David Schaefer ’81, Rapid City
  • Gene Sieve ’90, Excelsior, Minnesota

The Alumni Association will honor this class of deserving individuals as part of the 2021 Hobo Day festivities.

Abbott, the first African-American student-athlete at South Dakota State, majored in dairy but made his mark at Tuskegee (Alabama) University, where he coached from 1923 to 1965 and produced 38 national titles in four sports.

Alverson, who earned a degree in agronomy in 1974, has become a national leader in the field of corn and ethanol production as well as environmental stewardship.

Corbett, a chemistry major, distinguished himself with a 35-year military career and an 18-year career in academic administration. He currently serves as the mayor of Brookings.

Helling, who retired June 21 as vice provost for academic affairs at SDSU, earned her degrees in human development and family relations, and spent virtually her entire career at her alma mater.

Schaefer earned dual degrees in general and commercial economics and had a 38-year career with 3M, which advanced him to the executive level.

Sieve has used his mechanical engineering degree to catapult him to a successful career with Burns and McDonnell. He is now the regional vice president in Minneapolis.

For more information visit www.statealum.com/legendsandleaders.

Cleve Abbott
Cleve Abbott
Ron Alverson
Ron Alverson
Keith Corbett
Keith Corbett
Mary Kay Helling
Mary Kay Helling
David Schaeffer
David Schaefer
Gene Sieve
Gene Sieve