What’s your Arts and Sciences story?

I am humbled and delighted to be selected to serve as the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at South Dakota State University. Joining my new colleagues in achieving the full potential for the college is a challenging and exciting opportunity.p02-Papini,-Dennis-B-8330_1mug

“Passion. Discovery. Opportunity.” These are the qualities that guide my own life, and the ones we want our students to experience as they pursue their education in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Like many of you, I grew up in a rural midwestern town. A cornfield served as the fence for our backyard. My small high school barely offered the courses needed to enroll in a state university at that time. Nonetheless, I was fortunate to have parents and teachers who nurtured my passion for learning and my curiosity to discover how the world worked. They also instilled the work ethic needed for transforming opportunities into realities.

I was fortunate to attend universities with dedicated and committed faculty who helped shape my knowledge and skills. I received my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Western Illinois University and my master’s and doctorate in life-span developmental psychology from West Virginia University.

From there, I served as a faculty member at Southeast Missouri State University, University of Arkansas and eventually back home to Western Illinois University. I then moved into administration at Middle Tennessee State University as head of the department of psychology. All of the students, mentors and faculty colleagues along the way inspired me to pursue becoming your dean.

Few of us ever take such journeys alone. My wife, Karen, joins me in Brookings. We have three children: Jason (lives in Chicago with his wife, Alison, and daughters Liliana and Juliana, and works for Pepsico), Marie (lives in Nashville, Tenn., and works as a school counselor at Lebanon High School), and Natalie (lives in Nashville and is completing her psychology degree at Trevecca Nazarene University).

Send us your story

So, now that you know my story, I want to hear yours! How did your years in the College of Arts and Sciences help you to identify and achieve your own passion, discovery and opportunity? Please, send me your stories about how SDSU’s dedication and commitment to student-centered learning and academic success made a difference in your lives. Also, send me your stories if we fell short of your expectations. We cannot fix problems without feedback from alumni and friends.

Better yet, stop in and share your stories with me when you are on campus. My door is always open. Or, if you would prefer to have me come to visit in your home or community, I would be delighted to do that as well.

Throughout this newsletter you will learn how the College of Arts and Sciences is embarking on a series of new academic initiatives specifically designed to help our students identify their passion, engage fully in the processes of both social and intellectual discovery, and equip them with the skills and insight to seize opportunity throughout their lives.

We hope you enjoy reading about these new projects as we share and celebrate student, faculty and alumni stories from this past year. A wealth of additional stories will be published on our college website in the coming months. Be sure to check back each month for updates to our website at http://www.sdstate.edu/as/ .

Dennis Papini

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