Mines News

Release Date Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Richard Gowen: A Legacy of Excellence

Dr. Richard Gowen, who was among the most impactful leaders in the history of South Dakota Mines, is shown here as a distinguished panelist during the 2017 International Collegiate Programming Contest in Rapid City.

Dr. Richard Gowen, who was among the most impactful leaders in the history of South Dakota Mines, passed away on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, at the age of 86. Read his full obituary. Gowen came to Mines first in 1977 to serve as the Dean of Graduate Education, following a highly successful career both as a teacher and researcher in the fields of biomedical and electrical engineering. The Board of Regents appointed him president of Dakota State University in 1984. Later, he returned to serve as Mines president from 1987-2003.

“Dr. Gowen was among the most passionate supporters of South Dakota Mines, and his enthusiasm was contagious. He inspired many and he dedicated much of his life to the advancement of the institution. He was instrumental in shaping the university we all know today. He will be greatly missed,” says Mines President Jim Rankin, PhD, PE.

Gowen-HistoricalGowen led the university’s first capital campaign, raising over $20 million for new programs, faculty development, research, and buildings that continue to benefit thousands of students. He helped found the award-winning, nationally-recognized Center of Excellence for Advanced Multidisciplinary Projects. He also spearheaded the development of programs to increase the number of Native American engineering and science graduates. He created an era of progress and improvement at Mines, and his impact reverberates today as students and faculty continue to benefit from his work.

He remained a very active community leader and philanthropist into his retirement and engaged in a wide range of projects. He played a pivotal role in bringing the Sanford Underground Research Facility to the Homestake Gold Mine. For his lifelong pursuit of excellence, he was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2014, he was part of the group that brought the Dignity statue to the banks of the Missouri River. In 2017, he and Nancy established the organization “Excellence in Computer Programming” and brought together numerous volunteers to help the Black Hills region host the International Collegiate Programming Contest, which brought together college students from around the world.

“He led an exemplary life and in everything he did, he approached with tireless commitment to excellence. He addressed projects as he did life: head-on and at full-speed, giving it all he had and then some, and expecting those around him to do the same,” says Steve Allender, mayor of Rapid City.

 The family plans to establish an engineering scholarship at Mines in Dr. Gowen’s name.

Photos, thanks to the Devereaux Library from Dr. Gowen’s time at Mines, are on the university Flickr page here.


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, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

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