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Majors & Degrees

DSU diploma is a Ticket to Ride

May 4, 2023

Dakota State University’s spring graduates will learn how their DSU diploma is a “ticket to ride,” in the commencement address from Dr. David Kenley.

Kenley, the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, will use a public bus ride as a metaphor for life.

Kenley’s life and successful career in higher education have included achievements in program innovation, cross-cultural engagement, grant writing, faculty development, strategic planning, online instruction, and many other critical areas of higher education.

Kenley has collaborated with three Nobel Peace Prize winners and several other influential leaders worldwide. Fluent in Chinese, he is committed to international understanding. He has traveled widely across five continents, he has led over a dozen study abroad programs in seven countries. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Kenley has authored four books, numerous journal articles, and is on editorial boards of several publications. He has shared his research in dozens of locations around the world.

He has a Ph.D. in Chinese history from the University of Hawaii, and has held academic and leadership roles at Marshall University in West Virginia and Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. Since joining DSU three years ago, he has supported faculty scholarship, promoted high quality educational experiences, and enhanced student graduation rates, all while remaining focused on DSU’s strategic plan.

Kenley was honored in 2022 with the “Bringing out the Best” True Trojan award for his ability to develop trust and credibility, provide co-workers with a sense of purpose, and build unity.


The Spring Commencement ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, at 10:30 a.m. at the DSU Fieldhouse; a Hooding Ceremony for graduate students will take place at 9 a.m. in Dakota Prairie Playhouse.

The 384 graduates will receive Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. degrees, and certificates.  Jazlynn Pederson, an Elementary Education major from Brookings, S.D., will speak on behalf of the graduates.

Alumnus Tom Nielsen, the Associate Director of Alumni and External Engagement, will induct the new graduates into the Alumni Association. Regent Pam Roberts, from the South Dakota Board of Regents, will confer the degrees.

DSU students will provide musical selections, including the National Anthem by Kinsey Pickering, and a student piece titled “Where You Go.”  

Limited tickets are available and required for general admission bleacher seating for guests; overflow seating is available in Dakota Prairie Playhouse. For those unable to attend in person, the hooding ceremony will be livestreamed here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NQV44enZGk; commencement will be livestreamed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCqqXX4Y9lg. More information is available on the DSU website, dsu.edu.


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