Lavallee key to USD marketing

Lavallee key to USD marketing Lavallee by Brian Humphrey If experience is a key, then The University of South Dakota unlocked its creative and marketing doors after hiring Michelle Lavallee.

Lavallee graduated with a bachelor of science degree in communications from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and an MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Lavallee, originally from Huron, was named USD's vice president and chief marketing officer last fall.

"The university really does have a mission that they really do care about the students and to me, I can get really passionate about that. I can get passionate about students and education," Lavallee said. "I love the fact that people are here for their self-fulfillment. I love the fact that they are here to become something."

Lavallee is responsible for a number of projects designed for the recruitment of new students. The number one method is the new integrated marketing strategy, followed by helping all of the university's departments position themselves with the new look, updating the USD Web site and completing the electronic expertise directory.

The new recruitment strategy is particularly targeted at

the 15- to 17-year-old market, with admission officials visiting surrounding high schools especially in Sioux Falls, Sioux City and Rapid City.

"The strategy is really focused on undergraduate recruitment and we've really targeted Sioux Falls, Sioux City and Rapid City as places where we could do a lot better with undergraduate recruitment," Lavallee added.

The revamped homepage, which has already been completed, was desperately needed to attract prospective students.

"Studies show that that's the number one tool students are using these days to do their first evaluation on your school on the Web site so about half my time initially went to the Web site," Lavallee said.

The electronic expertise directory will be a unique way for individuals, especially the media, to research a specific topic with experts that are located throughout the campus. The directory will include all of the contact information as well as what the experts know about the topic.

It should be completed and running in a few weeks.

"We want to promote our professors and our professors want to be consulted in the media," Lavallee said. "It also helps our image at the university if we can make our professors more visible."

Prior to coming to USD, Lavallee worked as vice president of customer strategies for NorthWestern, an energy and communications company headquartered in Sioux Falls. NorthWestern is the only Fortune 500 firm located in South Dakota.

Lavallee has also worked in a number of industries across the United States including banking, health care and consulting, collecting over 20 years of experience.

By Heidi Henson

Yankton Press & Dakotan

Family, friends and community members gathered at Slagle Hall Saturday to honor the men and women of Company B, 109 Medical Battalion, which has been activated as a part of Operation Noble Eagle/Enduring Freedom. The unit left Feb. 24 for its assignment.

State and local distinguished guests were also on hand to offer prayers and thanks to the soldiers, who are part of the eighth unit to be activated in South Dakota recently.

"Today marks an occasion in our community that brings world events to our door steps," said Vermillion Mayor Roger Kozak. "It is one thing to watch the evening news, and watch and listen as reports are received from lands on the other side of the globe. And it is quite another when we are sitting here with each other making final preparations to journey to those distant lands."

While most of the focus was on the men and women who would soon be leaving, many of the speakers addressed the families and employers left behind.

Don Kelpin, deputy chairperson for the South Dakota committee for Employer Support for the Guards and Reserves (ESGR), pointed out that without that strong family and employer support, the National Guard would not be as strong as it is. He said the sacrifices made by the families don't go unnoticed. Through the work of the ESGR and Family Support program, family members and employers have the support they need to get through toughtimes that may lie ahead, he said.

The National Guard is foremost a community-based organization, said Brig. Gen. Michael Gorman, assistant Adjutant General for South Dakota.

"The local community support all our units have received across the state throughout these mobilizations has truly been outstanding. And Vermillion is no exception," said Gorman, who will replace the retiring Adjutant General Maj. Gen Philip Killey effective March 1. "While it might be true that the families of South Dakota can do without the National Guard, I want to tell you that the National Guard cannot do without the families. I know these are trying times, as you send your loved ones off to defend the nation, but I want to ensure you ��both the families and deploying soldiers���that one of my main responsibilities is to make sure the family support program is in place and working."

For Lt. Governor Dennis Daugaard, the emotion of the moment was almost too much to bear as he talked to the soldiers about the pride he has.

"I've been trying to think what it would be like if it were my son or my daughter or my parent. I'd feel proud, I'd feel anxious. I know that is how you must feel," Daugaard struggled to say to the families Saturday. "We must be grateful to the families whose father or mother, husband or wife, son or daughter is being called to duty. Spouses and parents and children left behind must do more to cover for the absent family member � even as they are anxious about their safety and needs."

Daugaard said the family support for each and every soldier activated is important to the morale of the soldier.

"We are proud of the men and women of the South Dakota National Guard. They are the best of best," Daugaard said.

The men and women assembled here, he noted, are making many sacrifices. Some are students suspending their studies. Many are employees and workers taking leave to respond to the need.

Gorman said that for the employers, it is bad enough to lose an employee, but many of the guard's men and women tend to be leaders in the workplace, as well. Those employers are forced to sacrifice, too, he said.

"As an employer, you are forced to make the decision to hire someone new or redistribute the work. So I want to thank you for your sacrifices,"

Gorman said.

Daugaard added that guardsmen are also among the best employees in the state.

"When they leave, it's sometimes not just one person gone, but it seems like one-and-a-half or two people gone. And so those of you who are employers and will have to make do and get long ? thank you. Thank you for giving America your best," Daugaard said.

James Abbott, president of The University of South Dakota, spoke briefly Saturday about the pride USD has for those serving.

"The last couple of days an old song, which is really a biblical verse, has run through my mind � 'To everything there is a season, a time to laugh, a time to cry, a time for war, a time for peace, a time to sow and a time to reap,'" Abbott said. "As we send you off today � although we are praying for peace�� we're preparing for what we know we may have to do. We know you will do what you always do � a job well done."

Those soldiers who are mobilized are proud Americans and proud South Dakotans who are dedicated to freedom, said Gorman.

"We are grateful. We are proud. And we are with you in spirit and in heart," Daugaard said. "You are South Dakota's finest and we are grateful for your sacrifice and service."

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