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The Yellow & Blue Podcast | SDSU President Barry Dunn | S1E3

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In the heart of the Midwest, South Dakota State University is guided by the leadership of President Barry Dunn. He brings expertise from his time as a farmer, rancher, researcher and academic to the state’s land-grant university. 

In his pocket he carries a key to the King Ranch, kept from his time as executive director of the King Ranch Institute for Range Management. It reminds him of his livestock roots. 

His passion for #SDState runs deep, earning three degrees from our university and holding several positions as faculty, director of SDSU Extension and the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. 

He has a steadfast commitment to students and their success. One of his greatest accolades is providing the vision for the Wokini Initiative, a mission close to him as an enrolled tribal member of the Sicangu Lakota. 

Since 2016, he has served his alma mater through one of his greatest contributions, being president. Follow along as we take you through his life legacy and on the path to becoming president.

Transcript:

[Barry] And I was introduced as the president of the Jackrabbits. And this little girl said, is he the president of all the bunnies? And I mean, those kind of moments are just, you know, just, really, really fun. 
 
[Heidi] Hello, Jackrabbits Nation! my name is Heidi Bushong, and this is The Yellow & Blue Podcast. We have a very special guest with us here in studio today. He's a proud alum of South Dakota State University. Farmer, rancher, researcher and academic are just a few items on his resume, and many would call him the people's president. The 20th president of South Dakota State University, Barry Dunn, thanks for being here today. 
 
[Barry] Well, thank you for having me, Heidi.               
 
[Heidi] We are so excited to have you on the show. And you know, right now school's out. It's May. Everyone's kind of taking a breath, thinking about the year that was. And I kind of wanted to talk a little bit about that with you today and a little bit about everyone's favorite topic, talking about themselves. 
 
[Barry] OK. 
 
[Heidi] So there were so many things that SDSU has accomplished this past academic year, but are there any, is there anything that sticks out in your mind that were like personal favorites of yours? 
 
[Barry] Yeah, I think the Bold and Blue accomplishment will forever be the, yeah, the memory for this academic year. You know, $604 million and three, almost 31,000 unique donors for me. And then the celebration was so much fun. Yeah, with the Johnny Holm Band. And so that one, that's a big accomplishment. It's going to change the university for decades to come in a very positive way. 
 
[Barry] So that's the top. But the national championship. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah. 
 
[Barry] I mean, my gosh, Frisco was just so fun, and they, the team was so impressive and so powerful. It was just a great statement about who we are, I think, as a university. But kind of kicked off with a large freshman class, which might seem kind of boring, but, you know, a third largest freshman class in history. 
 
[Barry] And so that, you know, turning that around, you know, stabilizing enrollment and, and having those, you know, additional 300 young people. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah. 
 
[Barry] Want to be, want to be here with us, was really, a really important for us. I think, I think it lifted the spirits of, of the faculty and of the administrators and all that whole team that's been working on enrollment, so hard and so dedicated. 
 
[Barry] But it, it's in response to our, to Bold and Blue because we, we doubled the amount of scholarships that the Foundation was providing. So a lot of that is tied together. But it's really fun. 
 
[Heidi] Super important. 
 
[Heidi] We love to see when people pick South Dakota State University. I love to see when they come here. Speaking of which, you chose South Dakota State University as a student. You have three degrees from here. 
 
[Barry] Yeah. 
 
[Heidi] Let's kind of get into talking about yourself. Why did you decide to come to SDSU? Because I know you didn't graduate in South Dakota. 
 
[Barry] No. My parents moved around a lot when I was growing up. But maternal grandparents, my mom's parents, had a cattle ranch in Misson. My grandpa was a member of the Rosebud Tribe. And that was kind of the stabilizing part, a place for me. And so my older brother, four years older, Greg, wanted to visit South Dakota State. 
 
[Barry] He was thinking about coming, but, but this so this is 1967 or something. The interstate hasn't been built, all, I think it, you know, wasn't all the way to Brookings and. 
 
[Heidi] Oh sure. 
 
[Barry] So we came and we visited, my mom and Greg and myself, and she was picking us up from spending the summer with our grandparents. 
 
[Barry] And he didn't like it. 
 
[Heidi] Oh, no. 
 
[Barry] And I loved it. It's the only place I applied. That's a challenge for me, that I make decisions hard and fast. And I did, and that's the greatest decision I ever made. 
 
[Heidi] Sure. What about it kind of drew you here? Why did you decide, “This is the place for me? I know I'm doing it.” 
 
[Barry] The degrees that were offered interested me. It was range management, animal science. I, you know, I just wanted to be a cattle rancher. Wanted to go there after, after I graduated. So the degrees that were offered. I ended up graduating in biology because I loved and I liked the science part of it, so I took mostly science courses, got a minor in chemistry, kind of, believe it or not, because it was hard. 
 
[Heidi] Let's talk about your time as a student. You know, you met a pretty important person here. 
 
[Barry] Yeah. 
 
[Heidi] The person who would become your wife. And you got a degree in biology and then went straight into your master's degree, right? 
 
[Barry] Those four years as an undergrad made great friends in Mathews Hall, and that are still great friends today. Again, I like to study a lot. So my roommate Larry, and I would, you know, get done eating at Grove Commons then. And we often go, almost every night, go to the library, just studied a lot and had it, but we had a lot of fun. 
 
[Barry] We played a lot of football outside and basketball in the barn, as in for intramurals. And between my junior and senior year, I met Jane in Pierson Hall, but we dated for three years and then got married after I got my master's, and she graduated from nursing. So. 
 
[Heidi] So that's wonderful. So right after your time at SDSU here, you're getting married, you're going out, you're starting your career. What would, what did you go do?   
 
[Barry] Yeah, I actually went to work for North Dakota State. I was, I ran a beef research unit at the Carrington Research and Extension Center in Carrington, North Dakota. And Jane worked in the local hospital. We lived up there for two years, and it was so cold and so snowy. 
 
[Heidi] People say that about here. 
 
[Barry] Yeah, that was much, much worse. Had a really nice house on the experiment station, and the snow literally covered the house that year. 
 
[Heidi] Wow. 
 
[Barry] We got a chance to go back home to the ranch. My grandparents had passed away and had a chance to go back home, and we, Jane was nice enough to go on that journey with me. 
 
[Barry] And so then we ranched there for almost 20 years. 
 
[Heidi] Life as a farmer, rancher is not for the weak. Tell me about your years ranching. 
 
[Barry] Wonderful, hard, difficult, challenging time. It was the farm crisis of the ’80s. So it was, it was very challenging. But again, had great friends, great neighbors. Just, just that rural experience. You know, I was on the conservation district board. Jane was very involved. She taught at, she taught nursing at Sinte Gleska College. 
 
[Barry] I took courses there in business because I didn't. I was mostly a science guy here, so I needed to do some business courses. You know, there were times when we couldn't afford extra help. So Jane and Barry were the only people on a 15,000 acre ranch. And it was a lot of, wouldn't trade it. 
 
[Barry] But it was it was challenging, very challenging. But again, that community, you know, I have a strong group of friends and community members when I was a student here, and in Mission, we had just the best friends in Valentine and some in Winner. Those were the two trade towns and just, just wonderful support from our, several neighbors that I'll never forget. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah. 
 
[Barry] And, then our friends in those communities just helped support us. We had a really strong relationship with our, with the church that my grandparents had gone to and my great-grandparents. And so that was really, that church was meant a lot to us. And, so at that community, part of my life has been, probably the constant that that I've looked for and tried to build, so. 
 
[Heidi] Your passion is animal science and range science and that, you know, shows through your degrees, being dean, through your years ranching. What about it is appealing to you? 
 
[Barry] Yeah, I it's hard to describe unless you get out there, I think. But riding horseback across the prairies of South Dakota or the sandhills of Nebraska, for example, it's pretty special. It's very different than going in a four-wheeler or side-by-side. It's quiet. It's you and the horse and, you know, if you're riding alone or with my brother Roger because he, Roger was ranching with me. And all you hear is either, either the wind here in South Dakota, but the bird life and the flowers, I mean, I've ridden through valleys that, that in this time of year in May would just be blanketed with wildflowers. Yeah. And it's, it's just an incredible experience, especially on horseback. 
 
[Barry] It's hard to describe. 
 
[Heidi] I gotta admit, horses scare me. They don't intimidate you at all. 
 
[Barry] No, I you know, I've, been bucked off a couple times, but, yeah, no. I have a real affection for horses. 
 
[Heidi] They have a mind of their own. 
 
[Barry] No. Yeah. You got to get with them. You got to, like my best horse was named Chico, and Chico and I just. We knew what to do with. He knew what to do for me. And I knew how to take care of him, so. 
 
[Heidi] That's awesome. Love to hear it. So you eventually, when you were done farming and ranching, you returned to SDSU. Is that when you came back? 
 
[Barry] Yeah, my parents sadly passed away at the same time. And Jane and I were their caregivers, and Roger and Arlene helped, but it was, actually, you know, it was a family ranch. And so it just triggered the sale of the ranch for family reasons. And that was the hardest. And I made the decision, but it was the best decision for the family.    
 
[Barry] So we sold the ranch. And Roger, still, and Arlene are still ranching. Not on that ranch, but a different place. And, as I reinvent, thought about reinventing myself, we looked at either going into seminary to be an Episcopal minister or coming back here to Brookings and getting a Ph.D. and  
 
[Heidi] Very different things. 
 
[Barry] Well, yes. Yeah. But both of them really important to me. But this was this was by far the best decision for our boys. And we had some property here in Brookings because of Jane's family. So it was an easier decision to come here than to go to seminary. So I came here and got a Ph.D. and worked for the Extension service. 
 
[Barry] And, and we had a small we have a small farm. And so we farmed and raised cattle until, ’til I went to Texas. But it was, the boys got a really, really good education in the Brookings school system. And Tom was, our oldest son, and he was athletic and loved sports, and Michael was kind of the bookish one. 
 
[Barry] And Michael, was in debate and plays. And so it was a really good decision. 
 
[Heidi] Sure. And so when you moved back, it was, to Jane's family's homestead, correct? 
 
[Barry] Yeah. Jane's great-grandfather homesteaded the farm that we now own. So we took our resources from the ranch and bought the rest of the family out. In 1878, he homesteaded. He dug, dug a hole in the. There's a hill on our place. And he dug a hole there and for, I think, the first two years lived in a dugout. 
 
[Barry] Those homestead stories are just amazing. And so got the farm started and his brothers and his parents came over from Norway, and, so and so it's still in the family. So that's pretty cool. 
 
[Heidi] Not many people can say that. What's it like, being able to kind of continue that history, to maintain something like that in your family when, you know, you had to painstakingly make the decision to sell your family farm? 
 
[Barry] Yeah. It's, it was kind of helped temper that, that heartbreaking part of selling the ranch, was to be able to invest in Jane's family's farm. So it's it's, you know, I'm big on conservation. So we planted trees and we, you know, cleaned it hadn't been taken care of because her grandpa had died many years before. 
 
[Barry] So we did a lot of cleanup. And it looks nice now and we're really proud of it. So it's been good. Good for me to pour my ranching or love of that part of my life into that farm, so.               
 
[Heidi] This was a move that made sense. You know, you came back to Brookings, continued the homestead. Your boys have a ton of opportunities. And then there was an opportunity that came to you, to be the executive director of the King Ranch at Kingsville. Yeah. Tell me about that story, because I really like this story. 
 
[Barry] Yeah. 
 
[Barry] So the King Ranch family in Texas and South Texas is just an incredible story in itself. They started their ranch in 1853. And, in celebration of their 150th anniversary, they started a, or they endowed a program in ranch management at Texas A&M Kingsville. So it's one of the little sisters, they call them, of the A&M system. 
 
[Barry] But all the rules are the same. We're just miles from from campus. So that's down in Kingsville. It's 80 miles from Mexico. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah. 
 
[Barry] A friend of mine who was on the search committee called and sai, there's very few people with Ph.D.s in animal science who could have enough ranching experience to start this thing. And you're that guy. 
 
[Barry] So they hired me. And Jane was patient enough to listen to this opportunity, and so moved to Kingsville for six and a half years and got the institute started. It was a fantastic experience. It just, working in another university system was really good for me and preparing for what turned out what I did. 
 
[Barry] This was not a goal, to be a president, but turned out really helpful for me to work in another educational system, higher ed. And then, just the, just that Texas experience there. They are can-do people and, and so it was fun to be somewhere else because I'd spent most of my life in the Midwest and here in South Dakota. 
 
[Barry] So it was really good for me to be somewhere else and expanded. I got to travel the United States a lot and work with large ranches in Florida and Montana and just all over the United States. So it was it was a great experience. And I mentored about 20 grad students during that time. And, and just they're still wonderful friends. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah. 
 
[Barry] Yeah. So it was it was a terrific experience. You know. 
 
[Heidi] When you talk about reinventing yourself and you went so many different places, this really kind of, this role really kind of prepares you to become dean, which is a major role here at SDSU. Tell me about coming back and becoming dean of the then College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. 
 
[Barry] That time in Kingsville, there was an administrative part that I hadn't had before, and so I had to get curriculum, I had to develop the curriculum. I had to, but I also had to raise money. So it gave me a gave me a chance to gain some fundraising experience and talk to millionaires about, you know, talking them into giving me money. 
 
[Barry] And then, but then the curriculum side, you know, working through the academics of the A&M system was, we had to we had to get permission to do this. Going through that really, administrative part of it, Heidi, really helped me get ready to be a dean. And so and budgets and fundraising and all those things. So coming back as dean, couldn't turn it down, I as much as I enjoyed Texas, I wasn't gonna live there my whole life. 
 
[Barry] So coming back, had a great opportunity to work under President Chicoine and Provost Laurie Nichols. And, so it was the dean of the College of Ag and Biological Sciences. It just all fit together really well, so. 
 
[Heidi] It sounds like all the pieces were in place, it all just kind of made sense. You know, you had your fundraising experience, the administrative experience, and obviously, you know SDSU very well. 
 
[Barry] Yeah. 
 
[Heidi] And the people of South Dakota pretty well. So it really set you up for a good career as dean. 
 
[Barry] Yeah. 
 
[Heidi] Do you ever miss, you know, being able to be focused on the ag side of things? 
 
[Barry] I have a wonderful, full life every day here as the president, but I kind of envy Dean Cassady. We were doing well, and we had a lot to. I had a really great support system. Don Marshall was the associate dean for academics. Sadly, he's passed away now, but we had a good team, and we did some good things. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah, absolutely. What are, what are some examples of some good things that happened during your time as dean? Because it was arguably the largest college on campus for a while. 
 
[Barry] Yeah, it was. It had biology in it, which was is very unusual. 
 
[Heidi] Yes, made sense for you but not for anyone else. 
 
[Barry] So for typically biology is not in a college of agriculture. So we gained a lot of enrollment that way. And the hardest part was walking into a 10% budget cut because, when I became dean, there were some financial challenges when I started and then, Governor Daugaard had across the board 10% budget cut because of the recessions. 
                 
[Barry] And so I had a lot of help, though, from Wes Tschetter, who was vice president of finance. And we got through that and reinvented Extension and did some pretty dramatic things that were hard and took some really tough decisions. But, turned out to be the right thing. And then, but at the same time started building relationships and raising money to rebuild the Swine Unit and then rebuild the Cow-Calf Unit.            
                 
[Barry] And, did the groundbreaking or the ribbon cutting for the Young Brothers Seed Tech building, raised $1 million to name that. So I got out into the country a lot and listened and learned, and people always have advice for you.  
 
[Heidi] Yes, yes. 
 
[Barry] Yes, they do. But it was really helpful too. But we built new greenhouses. 
                 
[Barry] We did a lot of good work. So. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah, really some monumental things for that college. So after your time as dean, you ultimately became SDSU president. 
 
[Barry] Right. 
 
[Heidi] Why did you decide to do that? 
 
[Barry] I didn't set out as a goal. But I, you know, I thought, you know, when President Chicoine announced his retirement, some friends within the university and a lot of them outside the university, encouraged me to apply. And I, you know, it's unusual for a dean to become a president. Usually, you go to vice president of research or student affairs or provost or something. 
 
[Barry] So it was a little unusual. It's a big leap, but I know I had a lot of maturity and a lot of experience, and I gained a lot of trust across the state. I think even though I had made some tough decisions on Extension but kind of built that trust that I could make tough decisions but also make some tough decisions on rebuilding a college. 
                 
[Barry] So. So I felt strong and ready. And then, so I applied. I wasn't really sure that I, you know, had the support within the search committee. And I was honored and humbled to be selected as the 20th president of of the place I love. So it was it was really great. 
 
[Heidi] Was it something that kind of called to you, or was it when these people brought it to you, you thought, “Hey, I could probably do this.” 
 
[Barry] I knew I could do it. I think it was whether I could get selected. I had confidence that I could manage the budgets and make the decisions and build the relationships. So I felt, you know, that I was, you know, 60, you know, 2 or 3 years old. So I was I'd had a lot of experience and felt pretty confident. 
 
[Barry] I knew I could do the job. It was just matter whether or not other people thought I could. And if I hadn't gotten the job, I would have retired. And if I was allowed, of course, retired as dean because I loved that job. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah. 
 
[Barry] But, but it was a great opportunity. And, just really, really pleased that I was chosen and had a lot of support from Jane.    
 
[Barry] Because it's a big deal for her, too. A big part of the presidency is, is your spouse, and so she's been a tremendous support. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah. That's that is a very fair point to make. You know, whenever people see you out in public, like at sporting events or certain meetings or just events in the community, Jane's right there. She's by your side and, you know, thankful to have her there. And, you know, see that dynamic, too. She always has the president's home looking so lovely with flowers, especially this time of year. 
 
[Barry] Yeah. 
 
[Heidi] Probably something really exciting for her. So you became president in 2016. 
 
[Barry] Right. 
 
[Heidi] And eight years on the job. 
 
[Barry] Right. 
 
[Heidi] Been able to do a lot. How do does your job now compare to your previous lives, so to speak? 
 
[Barry] Much more intense. You know, just, and there's enormous responsibility. No. 1 concern for me every day is student safety. You know, you hear, read and hear about what happens on other campuses, whether it's to an individual or to a group of people with some violence. We've been very lucky and but we're prepared, I hope. 
 
[Barry] But that's my No. 1 concern has been student safety. So after that then you know, you hire. I've I've just had a terrific team. I mean, Provost Hedge is just, you know, a top-notch administrator. He gets the academic side of that, he gets the whole university. But that academic side of the house is really strong. 
 
[Barry] You know, we've had 64 accredited programs now. So, we've doubled that number of accredited programs. And that's his leadership. We went through university reaccreditation, had the best report the university has ever had. Karyn Weber is my chief of staff.    
 
[Heidi] She's the glue that keeps it all together. 
 
[Barry] Yeah. She does. And then, you know, I could go on and on, but Tracy Greene, Michaela Willis, Daniel Scholl. And then Mike Holbeck. When Wes Tschetter retired, Mike took over as vice president of budget and finance, and  just, he's a really cool young guy. Keeps me young. And, he's been a lot of fun to work with. 
 
[Barry] So I have a great team. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah, absolutely. I know you said that you care a lot about student safety, but I could argue that you just care a lot about students in general. 
 
[Barry] I don't have grandkids. So I think of these, you know, 11, 12,000 kids, they're of the age, if things had worked a little differently in my life, Jane and I would have grandkids about that age. And so I just love them up. I mean, they they're just such good kids. 
 
[Barry] And, they're becoming who they will be. You know, they're going through that. The difference between a student as a freshman, on Move-In Day when I'm carrying something into the dorm or unloading their car versus what happened a few weeks ago with commencement. The difference in that student, it's so wonderful. It's that transformation.    
 
[Barry] And that's what we do well here. And so that's that's what's really fun about it.                  
 
[Heidi] You say you love the students as if they were your grandkids because you don't have any of your own. But really they're the focus of everything you do. I mean, I say it in our office all the time, you know, “It's for the students. They're the reason why we're all here.” And you've arguably done a lot of stuff for the students. 
 
[Heidi] Let's talk about some different things that you've been able to do as president. Anything that sticks out as like a personal favorite of yours. 
 
[Barry] Starting the Wokini Initiatve will always just have a big part of my heart. Doesn't impact the greatest number of students, but, you know, I lived on the reservation with my grandparents a lot, and then when Jane and I were there ranching. So I get it. I get what my mother went through. I get one my grandpa went through. 
 
[Barry] And you know, that for me is, you know, the kind of the where I could really make a difference. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah. Well, and for those who don't know, what is the Wokini Initiative? 
 
[Barry] It's a Lakota word for “new beginning.” So SDSU has always had the responsibility to serve all of the state of South Dakota. And some would argue that after 100 and some years, we've not served American Indians, that part of the population, as well as we should. Can't go back and change what was or wasn't done here. 
 
[Barry] But we can go forward and make this place more welcoming to American Indian students. And we've got a long way to go, but we've got a new American Indian Student Center, just tremendous success stories of American Indian students coming from the reservations who are now pilots or architects or in veterinary medicine school. going to med school, a lawyer, going to law school, becoming teachers.   
 
[Barry] Just wonderful stories of success. I’d love to multiply that by quite a few, but it's just heartwarming and fulfilling. Exciting for me. I get a little shiver just thinking about it. But then on the bigger side, you know, I think winning the WNIT, when our office bought the tickets for all the students because students don't get entry into NCAA tournament type games. 
 
[Barry] So we have to find the resources to buy them that. We bought a lot of tickets. We got a lot of help from some great donors and being able to to win that WNIT that spring and beat, you know, major. 
 
[Heidi] UCLA, right? 
 
[Barry] Yeah, UCLA, University of Minnesota and major schools and just tremendous team. And it was fun, though. And so listening that day, you know, those when those young women won that tournament was another really special moment for me because Frost was packed and just, you know, just it was just a great, great time. 
                 
[Heidi] I was there, it was filled to the brim. Like Jayme Trygstad, look the other way. It was one of those kinds of nights. A couple things I have on my list. You mentioned tickets. You also did the same thing for like, the playoff games, for football. 
 
[Barry] Yeah. 
 
[Heidi] Which you want people in the stands. 
 
[Heidi] We got two national championships. Gear swap. That one's kind of a fun one, too, that I always like to see. Like, where you turn in your sweatshirt from another university for a discount on SDSU stuff. 
 
[Barry] Yeah. And that, that has some Texas roots. So when you go to when you're in Texas, people are either wearing University of Texas gear, a cap or a sweatshirt or A&M, and it's one or the other. But, you know, here at SDSU I when I came back as dean, there's kids wearing you University of Minnesota's swag and every other university in the world, and and so I wanted to brand us better and so I've not only so I've done this gear swap thing where kids can turn in a T-shirt or sweatshirt or a cap from another university and get a, a discount toward, in our bookstore. 
 
[Barry] But I've also actually gone up to kids and say, I'll buy that sweatshirt, that U of M sweatshirt from you, and buy you a new sweatshirt, if you'll. And I've done that a lot. And, it just drives me nuts when our students where somebody else's gear. So, it's getting better. Yes. You don't see it nearly as much now, but winning a couple national championships has helped. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah. We're really proud of our yellow and blue here. 
 
[Barry] Yeah. 
 
[Heidi] Another one I want to talk about kind of goes back to your time as dean was, the Barry Berry ice cream flavor. Yeah, that's a super notable one. People may not necessarily know it's named after you, going back as dean, but tell me about that. 
 
[Barry] Yeah, I wanted to learn how to how ice cream was made. I'm like, you know, I'm a beef guy. And so, Jane and I spent the afternoon in the dairy and, one summer on a slow day, and we had three young women, who were student workers, and they. The five of us made Barry Berry ice cream. 
 
[Barry] I wanted lots of berries because of my name. And so we used strawberry, blueberry and raspberry. And then we got to try some and adjust the recipe, and we came up with a great recipe. There was no idea that it would go, but that it would be. 
 
[Heidi] As big as it is. 
 
[Barry] It is. No, I mean, I there wasn't an idea that this would become a flavor that was in the. 
 
[Heidi] In the lineup. Yeah. It's like at every SDSU event, you got your Cookies ‘n Cream. Of course. 
 
[Barry] Yeah, yeah. 
 
[Heidi] And then you have your Barry Berry. 
 
[Barry] But it wasn't planned. It was just I didn't know how to make ice cream. And so I wanted to learn. And I love ice cream. So it's fun. It's really fun. 
 
[Heidi] Variety is the spice of life is the way I like to think. And I love the fact that you like to try new things and learn about new things. And I think that's really valuable as president, too, which is why I think some people arguably would call you the “people's president.” 
                 
[Barry] Oh, well, that's nice. 
 
[Heidi] SDSU has been in your life for decades. And you talk about, you know, going, living in Mathews Hall, loving Sylvan Green. The campus really has changed a lot over this time. What to you is really, like, the biggest change that you've noticed? 
 
[Barry] It's just so much nicer now. Whether it's the new dormitories or the additions to the Union, but. And this. And I wouldn't know this if I hadn't been in administration. But the chiller plants that air conditioned all the buildings are. There's so many parts of it. The heating plant is better. The so the kind of the guts of the university are just stronger or we have more access points for wireless. 
 
[Barry] We can kids can run the craziest games, you know, in their dorm room because we upgraded so many of the kind of the, the plumbing and the heating and, you know, IT. 
 
[Heidi] The internet. 
 
[Barry] The internet. And that nobody really sees. But there's been a tremendous effort over the last, you know, several decades to really improve the university from a functional perspective. 
 
[Heidi] Yeah. 
 
[Barry] So it's a much nicer campus than it was. At the same time we held on to Sylvan and you know, we've improved at the union and we've improved so many. Lincoln Hall is now spectacular. Harding Hall is a really nice place. And, so that's really fun, I think. 
 
[Heidi] You talk about going to the library with Larry back when Lincoln was a library, and now it's kind of like rejuvenated itself. You can see those roots again. What's it like being able to be part of this full circle? 
 
[Barry] It's really rewarding. I was, I wanted to fix up Lincoln, and we tried to fundraise for it, and we didn't get any donors, so we used university resources to fix up Lincoln. And it means a lot to me. We fixed up Ag Hall, means a lot to me. I spent a lot of my life in Ag Hall as a student and then a dean, and we fixed up. 
 
[Barry] We remodeled the first and second floor of Ag Hall. Third had already been done. Well, we have it. So it means a lot that it's a nicer and nicer campus. 
 
[Heidi] Absolutely. What has been your favorite part about being president? 
 
[Barry] You know, it's that people part. You know, I was introduced to a couple and they had this little toddler and, probably 3 or 4 years old, and, and I was introduced as the president of the Jackrabbits. And, and this little girl said, is he the president of all the bunnies? And I mean, those kind of moments are just, you know, just, really, really fun. 
                 
[Barry] And, I've got this long list of them now, which is really cool, but I guess I am the president of all the bunnies for a little bit. I think the answer was, I told her, no, not the Easter Bunny. 
 
[Heidi] So let's put that on a business card. 
 
[Barry] Yeah 
 
[Heidi] Be a lot shorter. You've had many lives, as you have you said on this podcast, many different roles: farmer, rancher, academic, president. When your time's done here, what do you want to be remembered for? 
 
[Barry] That people's president. That that I was friends with the faculty members and that I was friends with thousands of students and knew their names or got to experience a football game with them or something, just, during my time the university is, it was strengthened in many ways, not only physically. It's a nicer place, but financially we're much stronger than we've ever been. 
 
[Barry] I just want people to think back that I, you know, I was a good caretaker and steward of this, of their university. So that's kind of what I want to be remembered for, so. 
                 
[Heidi] Perfect. Great way to end. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today, Barry. 
                 
[Barry] Thank you, Heidi. It's been fun. 
 
[Heidi] Yes, this is The Yellow & Blue Podcast. Thanks for listening.