Mines News

Release Date Monday, December 10, 2018

US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to Speak at Mines Commencement

Dr. Heather Wilson, Secretary of the United States Air Force. Photo courtesy of the Air Force.


Dr. Heather Wilson, Secretary of the United States Air Force and past president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, will speak at the university’s fall commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Theatre.

Wilson served as president of SD Mines from 2013 until she was sworn in as the 24th Secretary of the Air Force in May 2017. Wilson is responsible for the Air Force’s $138 billion budget, which includes organizing, training and equipping 685,000 active, guard and reserve service members.

During her tenure at Mines, Wilson championed the development of the Student Success Center, the Math @ Mines program, the student business plan competition, entrepreneurs in residence, and the Freshmen Day of Service. She oversaw expansion of academic programs with the addition of a Ph.D. in civil engineering, the creation of the Energy Resources Initiative, the undergraduate Honors Program, the pre-health professions pathway, as well as the addition of numerous minors. She was instrumental in securing funds and guiding improvements to campus facilities, including the Stephen D. Newlin Family Wellness and Recreation Center, O'Harra Stadium renovations, construction of Placer residence hall and renovations of the chemistry and biological sciences and McLaury buildings. She also successfully led the effort for Mines to join the NCAA Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. She was a passionate advocate for the university and its students and her work more closely connected the university to the community.

Wilson has a distinguished career of leadership and service. She graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and served as an Air Force officer for seven years. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, England, where she was also a collegiate rower. Wilson served on the National Security Council as Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control under President George H.W. Bush during the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. She also formed her own company, Keystone International, Inc., that focused on business development and program planning work for defense and scientific industry. Her career of service further includes being a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a cabinet secretary in New Mexico’s state government.

“We’re lucky to have a leader of Dr. Wilson’s caliber associated with the university. Her career, her service to this country and to our students is a true inspiration for all of us here,” says current SD Mines President Jim Rankin.

The commencement ceremony will be live-streamed at www.sdsmt.edu/GradVideo.



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: Charles Michael Ray, 605-394-6082, Charles.Ray@sdsmt.edu