Through the generosity of two South Dakota State University alumni, the university has established its first endowed faculty position in the College of Education and Human Sciences.
The Tate Profilet and Mary DeJong Family Endowed Director of Early Childhood Education was formalized at an Oct. 22 investiture ceremony, paving the way for a new era of the early childhood education program at State.
Carie Green is the inaugural recipient of the Profilet and DeJong endowed directorship. Green, who earned her doctorate at the University of Wyoming in 2011, was recruited to SDSU this fall from Alaska with the endowed directorship.
At the event, Dean Paul Barnes spoke to the importance of investing in education. “We must continue to test our understanding of teaching and learning, step farther than where we have been before and find new and innovative approaches to research and teaching that set our next generation up for success,” he said.
Donors like Profilet and DeJong make endowed positions possible, playing a pivotal role in securing the university’s standing at the forefront of visionary academics. The couple met at SDSU in 1971 through their involvement in student government. Fifty years later, Profilet and DeJong sought to give back to their alma mater in a transformational way. The endowed position honors DeJong’s lifelong passion for teaching and counseling while addressing a priority for both donors: elevating support for children to instill competence and excitement to learn at an early age, impacting the habits and attitudes of students throughout the course of their education.
The endowed directorship will bolster groundbreaking teaching strategies that foster confidence and growth in children, positioning them on a trajectory for success. The study of early childhood education offers crucial experiences and learning opportunities for college students pursuing a degree in the field, while guiding children who are potential future Jackrabbits. In effect, the position is an investment in both current and future generations of SDSU students.
Endowed faculty positions, like directorships, heighten prestige for the university and build a reputation as a premier institution for cutting-edge education, attracting the best and brightest minds from across the globe.
“Endowed positions, and the funding support associated with them, are indeed a margin of excellence that will move SDSU from being a participant in the academic and research future to playing a leading role in defining and shaping the academic and research future of critical issues and challenges of our time,” said Provost Dennis Hedge.
Green is the recipient of a five-year National Science Foundation CAREER award, studying the emotional and behavioral processes of environmental identity development among rural (Alaska Native) and non-rural Alaskan children.
As of October 2021, commitments are in place for 43 endowed faculty positions at SDSU, with an overall goal to reach 50.
“Our intention is that our gift will be transformative for the department,” said Profilet and DeJong, “and that it will be a catalyst for future gifts … this is only the beginning.”
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