Graduation will look a little different at Dakota State University this spring. Instead of one morning commencement, there will be two ceremonies on Saturday.
Commencement for graduates of The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences will be held at the DSU Fieldhouse at 9 a.m.; the ceremony to honor graduates of the Arts & Sciences, Business and Information Systems, and Education Colleges will take place at 2:30 p.m. in the Fieldhouse.
Also, a hooding ceremony for master's and Ph.D. graduates will be held at 12:30 p.m. in the Dakota Prairie Playhouse.
Multiple ceremonies have been considered for some years due to an increasing number of graduates. With social distancing requirements because of the pandemic, the decision was made to hold multiple ceremonies this spring.
Graduates from fall 2019, spring 2020 and summer 2020 will be honored -- approximately 520 students. Almost 240 are planning to attend in person.
Graduates will receive a limited number of tickets for families and friends to attend the ceremony, and these individuals will be seated in socially-distanced groups. The event will also be livestreamed for those who cannot attend; these links are available at https://dsu.edu/commencement/family-friends.html.
The speaker for both commencement ceremonies will be alumnus Miles Beacom. He is a 1981 DSU business graduate who has gone on to be a successful business leader and philanthropist.
Since 1993, Beacom has served as chief executive officer of PREMIER Bankcard which, under his leadership, has gone from serving 30,000 cardholders to more than 3.7 million customers nationwide. PREMIER is currently the 13th largest issuer of credit cards in the country and employs approximately 1,700 employees in four locations across South Dakota.
Beacom also serves in a variety of management positions with other financial institutions, and is a member of the Sioux Empire United Way, Catholic Diocese for Eastern South Dakota and DSU Foundation.
Community involvement and giving back to his profession have always been priorities for Beacom, and his philanthropy is far-reaching. Because of DSU's special place in his heart, he has never forgotten his alma mater.
In 2014, he and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford gave the largest donation to date for the first new building on the Madison campus in 30 years, the Beacom Institute of Technology. In 2017, Beacom, his wife Lisa and Sanford continued their philanthropy with a $30 million Rising Gift to DSU. This has been used for student scholarships, new faculty and staff positions, and a second new building on campus, The Madison CyberLabs (MadLabs). The computer college also bears his name, The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences.
Upon his 2013 induction into the South Dakota Hall of Fame, Beacom humbly responded that any success he has had is a result of surrounding himself with great people, from family, to co-workers to friends.
Beacom and his wife have three daughters and one son.
Distinguished Alumni Award
The Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to Tom Orton, who graduated with a business education degree from then-General Beadle State College in 1969. His advice to graduates is to "be prepared."
Orton was prepared for a diverse career that has included a broad variety of managerial, consulting and teaching experience in many industries. He was founder or co-founder of several companies, including Synetics Corporation (providing engineering and management services to the utility industry), a toy/game industry company that manufactured baseball board games, United Energy Services and Scientific Technology Inc. (providing consulting and recruiting activities for the utility, computer and aerospace industries).
He also taught business-related courses to first- and second-year students at a junior college in Boston, Mass., in conjunction with his studies for his graduate degree at Suffolk University.
Orton is currently a semi-retired consultant and an investor/owner of farmland in Stanley and Jerauld counties in South Dakota, presently serving on the doard of directors and as adviser to Outsource Management, Inc. He was a founding member of this 20-year-old company, which was established as a go-to resource for emerging midsized companies that embrace marketing automation, CRM and sales enablement platforms to grow and dominate their niche.
Student speakers are Samson Argo, a network and security administration major from Sioux Falls, at the 9 a.m. Beacom College ceremony; and Noah Salmen, an elementary education major from Madison, at the afternoon event.
Retiring Provost Dr. Jim Moran will speak at the hooding ceremony.