Distinguished alumni to be honored during Dakota Days 2012 at USD

 Three distinguished alumni from the University of South Dakota will be honored with Alumni Achievement Awards during Dakota Days. Recipients will be presented with their awards during the alumni banquet that is set for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, at the Muenster University Center.

This year's Alumni Achievement Award recipients were selected for their outstanding professional achievements and their service to the public and to the University. Honored alumni this year are Dr. Jerry Popham '83 B.S.M.D-4, '85 M.D., Craig Lawrence '69 B.A. and the late Roger Kozak '70 M.A., '72 Ed.S., '79 Ed.D.

Sigourney, IA, native Dr. Jerry Popham completed medical study at USD and now serves as chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Centura Health, Colorado's largest hospital. His work pioneering minimally invasive, small-incision surgical techniques are widely regarded as cutting edge and at the forefront of the science.

He is the recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award for Public Service for his humanitarian efforts as president of the About Face Foundation. The foundation, a group of medical professionals that travels annually to Vietnam, provides free care to thousands of patients for more than a decade.

He specializes in facial reconstruction surgery, provided at no cost, to children with facial abnormalities that rise from birth defects or trauma-related injuries.

The surgery Popham provides often can be the difference between life and death because of the societal restrictions children with these abnormalities face.

A native of Doon, IA, Craig Lawrence is recognized for his professional achievement in journalism and communications.

He began his work in journalism at USD's The Volante in the mid 1960s, serving as news editor for several years before earning his bachelor of arts in journalism in 1969.

He began work immediately as news editor at the Brookings Register, then as news director for KSSO/SCOO Television in Sioux Falls. He was promoted to the station's general manager in 1974, and worked in that position until he co-founded Lawrence & Schiller, Inc., an advertising agency and market research entity. He diversified the business in 1985, co-founding Lawrence & Schiller Teleservices, giving the company a telephone center and research component.

In 2008, Lawrence co-founded Lands Health, an Internet health insurance marketing company.

The late Roger Kozak was a USD vice president and provided the University and the Vermillion community with leadership for more than 23 years and is the recipient of the 2012 Alumni Achievement Award for Service to the University.

A Lake Andes native, he began his career at USD in 1979. Kozak served as special assistant to the University president, associate vice president, and as vice president, and was a member of the National Music Museum board, served as finance officer for the DakotaDome Development Corporation during its development and also spent 16 years as a member of the USD Athletic Board of Control.

He received several honors for his leadership during his career at USD. Before retiring in 2002, he was named both professor and vice president emeritus.

In Vermillion, he served both as mayor and in the city council, numerous other boards and foundations, including the USD Foundation. Kozak passed away on Aug. 1, 2012, after a battle with cancer.

 For more about the Alumni Association or to register for this year's Dakota Days activities, including the awards dinner, visit www.usdalumni.com or call the Alumni Association office at (605) 677-6734 or (800) 655-2586.


The Vermillion School District welcomes the following teachers to the school system.  These teachers new to the school district participated in orientation and pre-service meetings over the two weeks ago in preparation for their first year in the Vermillion system. They are (back) identifying their assignment, degree institution and location of recent teaching position:  Mallory Schmidt – middle school art, Southwest State University, Huron; Tagney Walters – fourth grade, University of South Dakota, first year; Timothy Goodman – alternative school math, Duke and SD School of Mines and Technology, first year; Jamie Hovden – pre-school, Mount Marty, Yankton; Carly O’Connor – fifth grade, University of South Dakota and Southwest State University, Dakota Valley; and (front) Megan Fischer – Spanish, South Dakota State University, first year; Carrie Rydstrom – middle school special education, University of South Dakota, Centerville; Natalie Webber, kindergarten, University of Nebraska, Omaha; and Mindy Whisler, third grade, Mount Marty, Parker. (Photo courtesy of Vermillion School District)

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