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SDSU announces ’24 Distinguished Alumni

Photo panel of the Distinguished Alums

From finance to food, six graduates who have risen to the top in their respective fields have been selected for the 2024 Class of Distinguished Alumni by the South Dakota State University Alumni Association. 

They are: 

  • Erica DeBoer, Class of ’97, Lennox 
  • Curt Everson, Class of ’77 / MS ’79, Pierre 
  • Dennis Helder, Class of ’79 & ’80 / MS ’85, Volga 
  • Kendra Kattelmann, Class of ’77, Brookings 
  • Jerry Tunheim, Class of ’62 / MS ’64, Melbourne, Florida 
  • Rob Wylie, Class of ’76, Pierre 

They will be honored during activities on Hobo Day weekend Oct. 11-12. 

DeBoer, a nursing grad, serves as system vice president and chief nursing officer for Sanford Health, overseeing nearly 9,000 nurses in post-acute, ambulatory and inpatient settings throughout the Sanford health system. DeBoer also is the past chair of the SDSU Alumni Association board of directors and in January was elected to serve on the SDSU Foundation board of governors. 

Everson, an ag business and economics graduate, spent 18 years leading the South Dakota Bankers Association, retiring in 2020. His prior position was commissioner of finance and management, the state’s budget and finance director. The Hayti native held that position nearly eight years and worked as a budget analyst prior to that. 

Helder, who was raised in Canton, earned degrees in animal science (’79) and electrical engineering (’80) followed by a master’s in electrical engineering (’85). The distinguished professor emeritus became an expert in the field of radiometric calibration of satellite imagery working extensively with the Earth Resources Observation and Science Center near Sioux Falls and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. 

Kattelmann, a nutrition and food science graduate, is a distinguished professor emerita of nutrition and dietetics at SDSU. She spent 26 years on campus, retiring in June 2023. Her research on nutrition education and changing eating behaviors netted more than $13 million in grants. Kattelmann also is a retired colonel is the U.S. Army Reserve and was deployed during Desert Storm in 1991 and the Global War on Terrorism in 2003. 

Tunheim, a Langford native and an engineering physics grad who added a master’s in physics in 1964, taught in the physics department at SDSU from 1968 to 1985 and served as president of Dakota State University from 1987 to 2004. He led DSU through a mission change to focus on computer and information systems technology. A classroom building is named after him. 

Wylie, an economics graduate, worked for the South Dakota Retirement System for more than 37 years and served as its executive director from 2003 to 2019. While executive director, he also served on the South Dakota Investment Council, which oversees the investment of all South Dakota trust assets, which is more than $15 billion. He also served on the SDSU Alumni Association board from 2014 to 2020.

For more information on the Alumni Association’s Legends & Leaders event, go to the organization's website.