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Retired SDSU employees provide funding for 50th, 51st endowed leadership positions

Two couples with more than a century of combined service to South Dakota State University have made financial commitments to push the university’s Bold & Blue comprehensive campaign past an important milestone.

University and campaign officials established a goal to have commitments for 50 endowed positions by the end of Bold & Blue. At the campaign’s start in 2017, there were 13. That number has now grown to 51.

Roberta Olson
Roberta Olson

Roberta Olson, dean emerita of the College of Nursing, is establishing a named, endowed position for the dean of nursing. It will be the third academic college with an endowed dean’s position. Olson served as dean for 20 years. Olson’s late husband, David, worked at SDSU for 16 years, until his passing in 2016.

Dan Kemp, professor emeritus of mathematics, and his wife, Michele, are establishing the Kemp Professorship in Honors Mathematics. Michele Kemp served as the administrative assistant for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences for 29 years. Dan Kemp taught for 42 ½ years.

Combined, the two couples have 107 ½ years of service to SDSU.

Their commitments represent the 50th and 51st endowed leadership positions.

An endowed position is the highest academic award that a university can bestow on a faculty member or academic leader, with the fund lasting as long as the university exists. It serves as an honor to the named holder of the appointment and an enduring tribute to the donor who establishes it.

The endowments associated with these positions presently range from $1 million to $5 million. The endowments generate an annual flow of revenue that can be used to support the endowment holders’ area of responsibility—everything from funding graduate students, research support, equipment and travel.

Michelle and Dan Kemp
Michele and Dan Kemp

They are viewed as a powerful tool for the university to recruit and retain top talent.

Olson earned her bachelor’s degree from SDSU, her Master of Nursing in maternal-child nursing at Washington University in St. Louis, and her doctorate in organization and administration of higher education from Saint Louis University. She served as SDSU’s dean of nursing from 1994 until her retirement in 2013. She acted as interim dean in 2018-19. David Olson earned his doctorate at SDSU and served as community development program director for SDSU Extension.

Kemp earned his doctorate from Oklahoma State and joined the SDSU faculty in 1976 as an assistant professor and later a full professor. His recognition included Teacher of the Year within the College of Engineering twice, the Edward Patrick Hogan Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009, and the Honors College Teacher of the Year in 2016. He retired in 2019. Michele studied English and psychology at the University of Texas; the two met when Dan was a lieutenant in the Army.

SDSU will honor at least 10 new endowment holders at the University Leadership Honors ceremony on Sept. 21 at the Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center.



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