The School of Mines family remembers Richard A. Schleusener, Ph.D., former university president who died Wednesday, Sept. 11, at the age of 87.
Dr. Schleusener led the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology from 1975-1986, serving as its fourteenth president. During his tenure, enrollment peaked to nearly 3,000 students, the King Center was completed and the institution celebrated its centennial.
His academic background was in meteorology and atmospheric sciences. Dr. Schleusener received an NSF grant for a key weather modification project in the 1960s while at Colorado State University (CSU), where he earned his Ph.D. and accepted a position as assistant professor and research scientist.
In 1959, while still working at CSU, he began serving as a consultant to the School of Mines' newly created Institute of Atmospheric Sciences, and in 1964 Dr. Schleusener became director of the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences (IAS) at SDSM&T.
IAS projects during his tenure included:
- "Armored Airplane," a T-28 WWII plane modified with armor plating and sophisticated instruments used to study hailstorms. The plane was used for many decades.
- Research and experiments in cloud seeding
- Multi-million dollar grants for the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences
In 1974, he was named dean of engineering and vice president at the university. On July 1, 1975, he was appointed acting SDSM&T president, and in March 1976 he became Mines president, a position he held through 1987.
During his presidency, enrollment grew from 1,682 to 2,260, peaking at nearly 3,000 students in 1983. Dr. Schleusener awarded more than 3,000 diplomas to graduating students during his tenure as president.
Infrastructure also grew during his leadership. The $2.8 million King Center was completed for recreational and wellness use, and Dr. Schleusener also secured authorization for the new Classroom Building.
Other high points during his presidency:
- Doctoral degree programs were established in meteorology and geology and geological engineering, along with bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science.
- The Hardrocker football team won the SDIC championship for three consecutive years.
- A community advisory board, university cabinet and the Presidential Award for Outstanding Faculty Member were established.
- He hosted the first Career Service Employee Recognition Banquet.
Services are being handled by Osheim & Schmidt Funeral Home in Rapid City. Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, at the funeral home with a prayer service at 6 p.m. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 16, at Calvary Lutheran Church.
Flags on campus will be lowered to half-mast on Monday.
View a photo chronicle of Dr. Schleusener's years at the School of Mines courtesy of the Devereaux Library Archives at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sdsmt/sets/72157635499446218/