Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Dean Mahon Plans Retirement

Dean of Students, Dr. Patricia Mahon, is retiring after 21 years of service. 

Dean of Students, Dr. Patricia Mahon is retiring after 21 years of service to South Dakota Mines.  This letter is published in the most recent edition of The Hardrock magazine.  This spring, university dedicated a new plaza on campus to Dean Mahon.

Dear Campus Community, 

In June I will be retiring. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students at South Dakota Mines for the past 21 years. The joy of coming to work has been centered around the students. Each day I have been reminded of the unique and individual qualities, backgrounds, and characteristics each aspiring Hardrocker brings to the campus, along with their individual struggles, joys, and aspirations.

The memories are endless. The reminiscences start in the fall of the academic year and include new student orientations—M Week with beanie and senior hats, coronation, standing at the base of M Hill making sure everyone returns safely; Career Fairs; Family Weekend; Veteran’s Day Salute; Diwali; Parade of Trees; Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service; Engineers Week; Cultural Expo; Children’s Easter Egg Hunt; Student Leadership Hall of Fame Induction; CAMP competitions; club and organization functions (i.e., attending weekly Student Association and Circle K meetings, semester meetings with the Greek Advisory Board).  Each semester, I thoroughly enjoyed the drama club presentations (played the dead dean in one play and was cast in the movie production of Snooze); wonderful vocal and instrumental music concerts; Native American honoring ceremonies; and  close to perfect attendance (sans COVID restrictions) to cheer on the Hardrocker scholar athletes, especially during the BHSU rivalry contests! The culmination was reading the names of each graduate who walked across the stage during the fall and spring commencements (and giving virtual greetings in 2020 due to COVID).

As student development team leaders, we’ve strived to collaborate across campus and the broader community to provide students personal and professional development opportunities and services in a safe, healthy, and inclusive environment. Residence hall capacity doubled, including expanding west of campus, which has helped create a safer neighborhood. The Surbeck Center experienced two major renovations and an expansion is once again in the planning stages There is so much more on the horizon for future generations of Hardrockers including renovations to the Devereaux Library and the new Mineral Industries Building. Though the future is bright, it isn’t easy. I’ve marveled over the years at the dedication of colleagues who operate on meager budgets to make South Dakota Mines thrive in a highly competitive recruitment environment.

My wish for South Dakota Mines is increased support from alumni, friends, and industry partners. This comes in many ways—by telling the Hardrocker story and encouraging aspiring scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to enroll or fostering retention through motivational classroom presentations and social conversations at area alumni events. Sometimes it’s in the form of rocks—Dusty Swanson and his family donated a boulder from their quarry which marks the entrance at St. Joseph and University Loop; Josh Sting implemented the spirit rock in 2003 which has been painted hundreds of times announcing upcoming events; Jim and Connie Green donated a bronze statue of Grubby—a favorite location for treasured photos.

The Student Emergency Fund created by alumni who received assistance along the way is augmented by Campus Ministries organizing the self-serve food shelf. Gifts that honor student life – like the Brass Life Award which provides study abroad opportunities, and the Stephen D. Newlin Family Wellness & Recreation Center and Fraser Gym, providing students a place  to gather and take care of their health.

Hardrockers share memories that brought them together at the Pearson Alumni & Conference Center. As my husband, Tom, and I head into a new chapter of our lives, we will be returning to my childhood home at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains near Sheridan, Wyoming. As forever friends of South Dakota Mines, we are endowing a scholarship. Contributing to future students who have the potential to make positive societal impacts and to the institution that has provided us with purposeful experiences is gratifying.

Best Always, 

Dean Mahon



About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-721-7865, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

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