Distinguished Alumni 2013

Eight chosen as SDSU Distinguished Alums

Left to right: Merl Hackbart, Robert Gunsalus, Jane McKee Smith, Brian Kaatz, Daniel Hansen, Roberta Olson and David Marquardt. Not pictured: Hugh Smeltekop.

Left to right: Merl Hackbart, Robert Gunsalus, Jane McKee Smith, Brian Kaatz, Daniel Hansen, Roberta Olson and
David Marquardt. Not pictured: Hugh Smeltekop.

Members of the 2013 class of Distinguished Alumni from South Dakota State University hold a particularly close tie to their alma mater.

Three are current or former faculty members, another directed the SDSU Foundation and another coordinated numerous partnerships between his current school and SDSU.

Those honored at a banquet Oct. 4 were:
• Robert Gunsalus, class of 1969, Los Angeles;
• Merl Hackbart, class of 1963, Lexington, Ky.;
• Daniel Hansen, class of 2003/’05, Brookings;
• Brian Kaatz, class of 1974, Sioux Falls;
• David Marquardt, class of 1964, Sioux Falls;
• Jane McKee Smith, class of 1983, Vicksburg, Miss.;
• Roberta Olson, class of 1964, Brookings; and
• Hugh Smeltekop, class of 1999, La Paz, Bolivia.

The distinguished alumni banquet was held Oct. 4 at the Swiftel Center.

Robert Gunsalus
Professional Achievement

Gunsalus came from a humble financial foundation, working at the State College sheep farm and washing lab ware at the Station Biochemistry. Now he is an internationally renowned leader in the field of microbiology.

After earning a degree in microbiology and chemistry at State, he began making major discoveries as a graduate student in 1977 at the University of Illinois. Gunsalus has been on the faculty at UCLA since 1981 and holds a rank reserved for the schools’ most accomplished faculty.

Merl Hackbart
Service to Education

Hackbart’s days at State include serving as 1963 Hobo Day chairman, but it is budgets, not bums, that has gained him accolades in Kentucky, where he has served at the University of Kentucky and in state government since arriving there in 1973 to begin a master of public administration program.

Shortly after arriving in the Bluegrass State, he was asked to serve as the deputy state budget director. That began an uninterrupted period of service to state government under seven governors.

Daniel Hansen
Young Alumni

A year before turning 30, Hansen was named assistant dean for student services at the SDSU College of Pharmacy. That was 2010, just three years after the former SDSU Students’ Association president returned to his alma mater as a pharmacy faculty member.

Hansen began his career as a staff pharmacist in Milwaukee. Eight months later he became pharmacy manager. After 20 months in that position, the Aberdeen native returned to South Dakota.

Brian Kaatz
Service to SDSU

Kaatz, dean of the College of Pharmacy from 2002 to 2008, oversaw the implementation of the pharmaceutical sciences Ph.D. program and approval of construction for a new building—the $51 million Avera Health and Science Center—to house the college in Brookings.

He joined the faculty in 1989 as head of the department of clinical pharmacy and helped implement the six-year doctor of pharmacy program.

David Marquardt
Service to SDSU

Marquardt headed the SDSU Foundation from 1998 to 2008 and continues to serve as senior counsel. He joined the foundation in 1996 as director of planned gifts after working as an investment broker.

Under his leadership, the foundation’s assets grew from $50 million to $120 million, and endowments grew from $33 million to $77 million. Total gifts and pledges exceeded $150 million and direct support to the university surpassed $90 million.

Roberta Olson
Service to SDSU

Olson served as dean of the College of Nursing from January 1994 to July 31. Undergraduate admissions in 1994 were 136 per year and today annually there are seats for 344 new bachelor’s in nursing students. The college has expanded from two campuses, Brookings and Rapid City, to four by adding Sioux Falls and Aberdeen.

In addition, the college has been a leader on campus in putting its programs online, and developed doctoral programs in nursing science and nursing practice.

Jane McKee Smith
Professional Achievement

Smith has achieved international acclaim in the field of coastal engineering, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 30 years.

She is the waves group leader at the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory at Vicksburg, Miss. The redesign of the New Orleans levees, based on her wave model, was successful in protecting the city during Hurricane Issac in 2012. Recently, her expertise has been sought for reviewing design standards following Hurricane Sandy.

Leave a Reply