Jerald A. Tunheim

Jerald A. Tunheim
20th President of Dakota State
In office
Preceded by Richard J Gowen 
Succeeded by Douglas Knowlton 
 Personal Details
Born September 3, 1940 Claremont, South Dakota


Jerald Tunheim, except for two years in the late 1980s when he was Dean of the School of Mathematical Sciences and Technology at Eastern Washington University, Tunheim has spent his higher education career in South Dakota, beginning as an undergraduate student at South Dakota State University in 1958. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics and a M.S. in physics, both from SDSU. After receiving his doctorate in physics at Oklahoma State, he returned to SDSU to teach physics and ended his tenure there 17 years later as Professor and head of the Physics Department. Tunheim came on board within a few years after the Legislature in 1984 changed DSU’s mission to focus on computer and information systems technology, so much of the credit for the University’s successful transformation can be traced to his leadership, Jewett said. “President Tunheim has focused on building a faculty base with diverse backgrounds and experiences,” he said. “Faculty and staff are encouraged to be innovative as they develop and deliver curriculum to students in a variety of settings.” “Under Jerry Tunheim’s guidance, Dakota State University found its market niche in higher education,” Jewett said. “Dakota State has evolved into a unique regional institution. Its advanced computer resources and academic programs are designed specifically to meet the needs of business, education, and the health care industry.” “I am most proud of the culture we have developed at Dakota State University that embraces new technology and applies it in everything that we do as a higher education institution,” Tunheim said. During his tenure as Dakota State’s President, the University saw a 236 percent increase in enrollment. The number of declared computer majors on campus grew from 109 to 973 students. Computer-related majors soon accounted for about one-half of Dakota State’s degree seeking students during his tenure. In 2009 the science hall was dedicated and named the Jerald A. Tunheim Classroom Building

Source: 2 April 2003, SD Board of Regents-News Release