Two to be honored at USD commencement Meredith Auld Brokaw, a 1962 graduate of The University of South Dakota, and former U.S. Senator James Abdnor will be honored at the spring commencement at USD Saturday, May 8. Commencement will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the DakotaDome.
Brokaw, 58, of New York City, will deliver the commencement address. During the ceremony, she will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and Abdnor of Ft. Myers, FL, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.
About 1000 students are candidates for degrees at the annual ceremonies. USD President James W. Abbott and Regent Shane Penfield of Vermillion will confer degrees. Mary Lynn Myers of Sioux Falls will speak on behalf of the USD Alumni Association.
USD music Professor Larry Schou will be the organist, playing Pomp and Circumstance. Mark Loder of Omaha, NE, will sing the Alma Mater. Emeriti Professors Jan Ebersdorfer, Allen Johnson and Corinne Milburn will serve as honorary marshals.
Brokaw founded Penny Whistle Toys, Inc., in New York City and Bridgehampton, NY in 1978. President of the company until 1997, she now serves as a consultant to the new ownership. Brokaw has written eight books relating to parenting and children's activities. Simon and Schuster has published the popular Penny Whistle series.
A native of Yankton, she has served as a director for the Gannett Company, Inc., for the last 15 years. She previously served as a member of the Gannett Foundation.
After graduating from USD, she taught English in the Omaha, NE and Washington, D.C., school systems. In 1987, she was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from St. John's University in Jamaica, NY.
Brokaw was instrumental in bringing the California-based CORO Foundation to New York in 1979. The CORO Foundation specializes in the training of talented young people to serve in the public sector. For 10 years, Brokaw chaired its New York board of directors.
Currently, Brokaw is a trustee of The Bank Street College of Education in New York City. She is on the board of trustees of the Educational Broadcasting Corporation. She also is on the board of Conservation International and a member of its executive committee. She is married to USD alumnus Tom Brokaw of NBC News. They have three daughters.
Abdnor, formerly of Kennebec and Rapid City, served as the U.S. Senator of South Dakota from 1981-87 and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1973. A farmer-rancher, teacher and coach, he was in the U.S. Army in 1942-43. He received a B.A. in business from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1945.
A coach and teacher at Kennebec High School and Presho High School and later self-employed as a farmer, Abdnor was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives and the South Dakota Senate (1956-68).
He was the lieutenant governor of South Dakota in 1969-70. After leaving the U.S. Senate, Abdnor was named the administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C., in 1987.