â�?�?On this campus, you will always belongâ�?�? Muenster addresses USD summer commencement By: David Lias
Plain Talk Under a brilliant blue sky, with a sun starting to dip toward the west, Ted Muenster noted Thursday evening that the platform he was standing on in the middle of the campus green at USD was once home to a street that crossed the university grounds. Thatâ�?�?s how much things have changed over the years, he said. â�?�?Indeed, in 1967, through streets intersected a very different looking USD campus,â�? he said. â�?�?Other changes at USD have been even more dramatic: new buildings and restorations of historic buildings are powerful statements of our confidence in the future and our reverence of the past.â�? It was fitting that Muenster chose changes at the university as one of the topics of his speech at the 79th summer session commencement exercises at USD. Much of the change that has occurred at the university can be credited to him. Muenster stepped down as USD Foundation president in December, but still manages special projects for the Foundation. As president of the USD Foundation for 10 years, Muenster helped grow the Foundationâ�?�?s assets from $50 million in 1998 to more than $200 million in 2007. He also oversaw the success of â�?�?Campaign South Dakota,â�? an ambitious undertaking that raised $134 million for scholarships, campus improvements and faculty support at USD. For more than four decades, Muenster has served USD in a variety of capacities, including assistant professor of political science, director of the Institute of Public Affairs and vice president of University Relations. â�?�?USDâ�?�?s development has had statewide impact,â�? Muenster told the graduates and the commencement audience. â�?�?The four-year medical school, approved in 1973 and symbolized by the sparkling new Lee Medicine Building to our west, has been fundamental in the rise of Sioux Falls as a major medical center.â�? Muenster said the universityâ�?�?s Sanford School of Medicine can also be credited with similar improvements in health care in Yankton, Rapid City and other regional medical centers in the state. â�?�?New graduate programs and research initiatives have raised the academic stature of USD,â�? Muenster said. He noted that the National Music Museum located on the campus has become a leader in the collection and study of musical instruments. USDâ�?�?s Disaster and Mental Health Institute responds to those stricken by natural and other disasters at literally a momentâ�?�?s notice, he said. Hundreds of new scholarships have been created since 1967, Muenster said. And most recently, USD has begun its transition to Division I athletics, â�?�?taking its proper place among the nationâ�?�?s flagship universities,â�? he said. He told the graduates that the liberal arts education they have received at USD will serve them well all of their lives. â�?�?Technologies come and go. New scientific truths are discovered, and new industries replace old ones,â�? he said. â�?�?But a foundation in liberal arts is never outdated. Your adaptability will help you weather whatever storms you encounter in the future. Because you can think, evaluate and make rational decisions, you will prevail.â�? Much of life, Muenster said, is a search for belonging. He told graduates to never forget their alma mater. â�?�?On this campus, you will always belong,â�? Muenster said. â�?�?You will be tied here by what you have learned, the friendships you have forged, and other experiences at USD. Wherever life takes you, you will always be tied to this place, and it to you.â�? Besides his multifaceted career at USD, Muensterâ�?�?s diverse r�?©sum�?© includes stints in politics and business. In 1970, Muenster began a five-year period as chief of staff to Gov. Richard Kneip. He was a vice president and partner with Robinson & Muenster Associates, Inc., a research firm located in Sioux Falls, and he served as director of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce from 1994 to 1997. In addition to receiving a bachelorâ�?�?s degree and a masterâ�?�?s degree from the University of Nebraska, Muenster was named an Honorary Alumnus of USD in 1978. The new university center, presently under construction on the USD campus, will be named the Theodore R. and Karen K. Muenster University Center â�?�? after Muenster and his wife, Karen, a former state legislator.