Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tiospaye Center for American Indian Scholars Named for Maria ‘Agnes’ Roybal Trujillo

Sisters Diane Malone, Debbie Ponzio and Doreen Gehrer read the tribute to their mother, Maria “Agnes” Roybal Trujillo, at the expanded new Tiospaye Center on campus to support Native American students.

RAPID CITY, S.D. (Oct. 14, 2016) – The family of Maria “Agnes” Roybal Trujillo has made a generous donation to build an expanded Tiospaye Center to support Native American students at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, President Heather Wilson announced today.

Donors Diane and Bob Malone of Texas attended a dedication ceremony at the university in honor of Diane’s mother who encouraged her children to incorporate their culture into better opportunities for themselves and others.

Family members also attending were Debbie Ponzio, Dean Elmore and Doreen and Dan Gehrer. Debbie and Doreen are also daughters of Agnes. 

Agnes grew up in an orphanage in the Denver area, where her individuality and heritage was suppressed and her Native American culture not honored or recognized. She went on to earn her high school diploma, unusual for any American Indian in the early 1940s. This accomplishment remained a point of pride for the rest of her life, and Agnes instilled the value of education in her children.

Bob Malone visited the School of Mines and was impressed with the university’s Tiospaye program, which up until this fall was managed out of a small 200-square-foot space in the basement of the McLaury Building. 

Their donation contributed to an expanded space of 450 square feet in the renovated garden level of the Devereaux Library. 

This space is designed as a comfortable home-away-from-home, where American Indian scholars are encouraged to honor their heritage, support each other, and find an extended family. The NSF Tiospaye Scholar Center is comprised primarily of three rooms – one quiet study space; one where scholars can interact more openly, collaborate on projects and provide space for tutoring; and the office for the Tiospaye Mentor. The program director’s office is adjacent, providing easy access for scholar mentoring.

During the family’s visit they are meeting with students from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, forging steel in a blacksmithing demonstration with the metallurgy department and attending the student Fall Leadership Retreat, where Bob Malone will address students. 

Tiospaye is a Lakota word which, roughly translated, means “extended family.” South Dakota Mines enrolls 103 Native American students, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Tiospaye Scholar program (24 scholars from 10 tribes) is one of the primary ways the university welcomes and supports students. 

Funded by the NSF, the Tiospaye Scholar Program at SD Mines has provided over $1.8 million in support – more than $1.5 million of that in scholarships – to American Indian scholars in engineering, science, and mathematics since 2009. Scholars must demonstrate academic talent and financial need. Support is provided in five core areas: financial, academic, professional, cultural and social. Since 2009, 27 scholars have graduated from SD Mines with BS STEM degrees and several more are on track to graduate by May 2018.

Malone retired in 2009 as chairman and president of BP’s American operations. He is the chairman of the board of both Halliburton and Peabody Energy.


About SD Mines  

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,778 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $61,300. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat

Contact: Fran LeFort, (605) 394-6082, Fran.LeFort@sdsmt.edu

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