From student to president: A new chapter at SD Mines

South Dakota native and SD Mines grad returns home.

RAPID CITY, S.D. – With the investiture of the presidential medallion bearing the seal of the school during an inauguration ceremony at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center on Thursday, Dr. James Rankin became the 19th member of an elite club – the presidents of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Dr. James Rankin gives an address at his inauguration as 19th president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Photo Date: Oct. 4, 2018.

Dr. James Rankin addresses the crowd at his inauguration.

For Rankin – a Fort Pierre native and 1978 Mines graduate – it was an exciting homecoming that he never dreamed of in his days as a student Hardrocker.

“Oh, it’s great,” Rankin said. “To be able to come back to South Dakota, to come back to my alma mater, it was just really an exciting feeling. You know when I was here as a student, I never had any dreams of being the president, so it was kind of interesting to come full circle.”

Rankin has been acting president of Mines since January – replacing Heather Wilson, who is now secretary of the U.S. Air Force.

Mines faculty are looking forward to working with Rankin, whom they see as someone who will fit in well with the faculty and staff.

“We feel like he’s at home here since he’s an alumnus of the school,” said Prof. Thomas Montoya, president of the faculty senate. “He is already familiar with our campus culture, and he’s been an educator – a faculty member himself – so that makes him able to relate to us very well.”

Students appreciate that he’s already run the gauntlet that they are running now. Rankin will be able to guide the student body with a sensitivity to the unique challenges that a Mines education throws at them.

“Having an alum back on campus – the students know that he’s been through it,” said Jacob Oberpriller, president of the student association. “He knows what he’s doing; he knows what we’re going through, and so we know that he’s got our best interests at heart and knows the experience that Mines has.”

Truly a homecoming that has brought a man full-circle back to South Dakota and its School of Mines and Technology.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News