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South Dakota State honors newest endowment holders

South Dakota State University's second annual investiture ceremony honored 12 holders of endowed faculty and director positions.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dennis Hedge, left, and SDSU President Barry Dunn, far right, paid tribute Sept. 21 to the university’s newest endowment holders. They are, starting second from left, Ananda Nanjundaswamy, Kasiviswanathan Muthukumarappan, Christine Larson, Nicholas Uilk, Christina Castillo, J.R. LaPlante, Junjian Qi, James Amell, Robert Thaler, Mary Anne Krogh and Tim Hansen. Not pictured is Wiyaka His Horse Is Thunder.

South Dakota State University recently paid tribute to the university’s newest endowment holders.


The second annual investiture ceremony honoring 12 holders of endowed faculty and director positions was held Sept. 21 in Founders Recital Hall in the Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center.

Through the generosity of donors, SDSU now has commitments in place for 53 endowed leadership positions. A central part of SDSU’s Bold & Blue comprehensive campaign was growth in endowed positions. There were commitments for 13 at the start of the campaign in 2017.

Endowments offer their holders resources to invest in research, their college or their department, pay for graduate assistants or travel, buy laboratory equipment and more, all because an individual, company or organization chose to make that investment, SDSU President Barry Dunn said.

“These positions matter,” Dunn said. “They enable us to recruit and retain talent. There are endowment holders that either came to South Dakota State—or have stayed at South Dakota State—because we were able to offer an endowed leadership position.”

The University Leadership Honors ceremony recognized the following most recent individuals to occupy endowed faculty and director positions at SDSU, and the donors who made them possible:

• Mary Anne Krogh: Roberta K. Olson Endowed Dean of the College of Nursing

Funded by Roberta Olson

Krogh has served as the dean of the College of Nursing at SDSU since July 2019. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and doctorate from SDSU and her Master of Science in nurse anesthesia from St. Mary’s University/Minneapolis School of Anesthesia. Her research focused on the psychometric impact of adding alternative item types to the National Certification Examination for Nurse Anesthetists. In 2015, Krogh was selected as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

• Kasiviswanathan Muthukumarappan: Klingbeil Endowed Department Head of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Funded by Maynard A. Klingbeil

Muthukumarappan earned his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and had postdoctoral training there from 1993-1997. He joined the faculty at SDSU in 1997 and has risen through the ranks. He has devoted his time in developing fundamental platform technologies and bio-refinery systems to produce energy, materials and chemicals from renewable resources. He has received a total of $20 million in research support funding from the U.S. government, federal organizations and other agencies.

• Nicholas Uilk: Klingbeil Endowed Educator in Precision Agriculture

Funded by Maynard A. Klingbeil

An instructor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Uilk has been on the faculty since 2009. He has taught a range of classes in multiple academic programs, including agricultural systems technology, agricultural education and precision agriculture, and he focuses on providing students with hands-on experiences. Uilk has worked to meet industry demand in precision agriculture by creating a program that teaches students the value that precision practices can bring to production agriculture.

• Robert Thaler: Farm Credit Services of America Endowed Chair in Swine Production

Funded by Farm Credit Services of America

Thaler has served SDSU’s Department of Animal Science since 1988, spending most of his career as SDSU Extension swine specialist. He has served in additional positions but always returns to his passion for serving pig farmers through his Extension role. His leadership helped secure $7.4 million in funding from a diverse, multistate group of swine industry leaders to build the SDSU Swine Education and Research Facility, and he has earned many awards for his teaching, outreach and dedication to the swine industry.

• Tim Hansen: Harold C. Hohbach Endowed Professor in Electrical Engineering

Funded by Harold C. Hohbach

Hansen received his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering with high honors from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and his doctorate in electrical engineering from Colorado State University before joining SDSU’s electrical engineering and computer science department in August 2015. His academic interests are in the areas of high-performance computing and electric power and energy systems, and he has been recognized for exceptional engagement of undergraduate students in electrical and computer engineering through pedagogical innovations, classroom technologies and curriculum development.

• Junjian Qi: Harold C. Hohbach Endowed Professor in Electrical Engineering

Funded by Harold C. Hohbach

Qi received his doctorate in electrical engineering from Tsinghua University, China, and then did postdoctoral studies at University of Tennessee and Argonne National Laboratory. He served as an assistant professor at University of Central Florida and later at Stevens Institute of Technology before coming to SDSU in August. His research interests include cascading blackouts, microgrid control and cyber-physical system security. He has been recognized for his research and teaching and was the recipient of the NSF CAREER award in 2020.

• Christine Larson: Kemp Endowed Professor in Honors Mathematics

Funded by Dan and Michele Kemp

Larson received her bachelor’s degree from Augustana University prior to earning her master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics education at Montana State University. She joined the faculty at SDSU in 1992 and loves helping students launch their professional journey with a solid foundation in calculus. Her work developing mathematics education courses and curricula has provided countless individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to become impactful teachers. She has also created professional development opportunities for both SDSU faculty and K-12 teachers throughout South Dakota.

• Ananda Nanjundaswamy: Richard and Janice Vetter Endowed Professorship in Biology and Microbiology

Funded by Richard and Janice Vetter

Nanjundaswamy received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture and master’s in agriculture biochemistry from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, before earning his doctorate in grain science from Kansas State University. He was a postdoctoral researcher at Auburn University. Nanjundaswamy also has over nine years of industrial research experience in biomanufacturing of biotherapeutics, enzymes and bioproducts. Prior to joining SDSU, he was a tenured associate professor with the Department of Agriculture at Alcorn State University, where he conducted research in bioprocessing for bioproducts development.

• James Amell: Julie Stevens and Dale Evenson Endowed Faculty Scholar

Funded by Julie Stevens

An associate professor and coordinator of SDSU’s Master of Public Health program, Amell completed undergraduate degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received master’s degrees in public health and social work from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and his doctorate in social welfare from the UW-Madison. Amell has over 17 years’ experience in higher education, including leadership, teaching and research, as well as supervising applied practice and capstone experiences in departments/schools of public health as well as in schools/departments of social work.

• J.R. LaPlante: Larson Family Endowed Associate Vice President of Wokini

Funded by the Dale and Pat Larson family

LaPlante is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and is a graduate of the University of South Dakota School of Law, with an undergraduate degree in sociology from Carson-Newman College. He was formerly the director of tribal relations for Avera Health, an assistant United States attorney and tribal liaison with the United States Attorney’s Office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s first secretary of tribal relations, chief judge for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, an Equal Justice Works/Americorps legal fellow and a Bush Foundation Native Nation Rebuilder.

• Wiyaka His Horse Is Thunder: Larson Family Endowed Director of the American Indian Student Center

Funded by the Dale and Pat Larson family

His Horse is Thunder is Hunkpapa and Oglala Lakota. She is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2015 and a master’s degree in science in counseling and human resource development in 2018 from SDSU. Instrumental in providing insight and ideas during the planning of the American Indian Student Center, she became the student success adviser for the center upon its opening. She believes her time as an American Indian student at SDSU helps her to better understand students in her current roll.

• Christina Castillo: Larson Family Endowed Director of the Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center

Funded by the Dale and Pat Larson family

Named to her position at SDSU in December 2022, Castillo is an alumna of SDSU and Prairie Repertory Theatre and received her bachelor’s degree in communication studies and theatre in May 2010. Over the past decade, she has worked internationally in event management, marketing operations, sales operations and administration. She has served in various roles for groups such as TEDx Brookings, Pack 24 Cub Scouts, Prairie Repertory Theatre and Brookings Community Theatre. With her new role, she serves as an ex-officio board member of PRT.