Lt. Gov. Matt Michels will deliver the keynote address as The University of South Dakota awards degrees to more than 1,300 candidates at the 124th Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 7. The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. inside the DakotaDome at USD.
Michels, who was born in Pierre, but grew up in Vermillion, was elected South Dakota's 38th lieutenant governor last November and has a long-standing history as a member in the South Dakota State Legislature, including speaker of the House of Representatives. He attended USD after graduating from Vermillion High School and in 1980; Michels earned a nursing degree and continued to work as a nurse while he obtained his B.S. in health services administration. Michels also earned a juris doctor from the USD School of Law in 1985. Following law school, Michels served as an officer in the United States Navy, and married his wife, Karen Lindbloom, a native of Pierre, while stationed in Mayport, Fla. They have a son, Collin, current president of the USD Student Government Association.
In 1989, Michels moved to Yankton and joined a law practice, practicing health care and hospital law along with other aspects of legal services to individuals and nonprofit organizations. Michels was a partner in Michels & Associates, Prof. LLC and served as general counsel for Avera Health. He represented District 18 as a member of the state House of Representatives from 1999 to 2006, serving two years as speaker pro tempore and as speaker of the House for four years – the first person to serve two terms as speaker since the 1950s.
Additionally, Gabor S. Boritt, of Gettysburg, Pa., will be presented with a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree. Boritt, a native of Hungary, graduated in 1963 from USD with a master's degree in history. He is one of the most significant scholars of Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War. In 1981, he began teaching at Gettysburg College where he founded the Civil War Institute. In 2008, Boritt received the prestigious National Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush.
Distinguished faculty from the 2010-11 academic year will also be recognized during commencement exercises, including recipients of the Belbas-Larson Awards for Excellence in Teaching; the Richard and Sharon Cutler Awards in Liberal Arts; the John Wesley Jackson Memorial Award presented to the outstanding professor of law; and the College of Fine Arts Distinguished Professor Award.