Erpenbach new leader at Foundation

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

Steve Erpenbach, a Mitchell native and 1985 SDSU journalism graduate, recently became the President and CEO of the SDSU Foundation.

Before returning to SDSU, Erpenbach worked at newspapers for four years, including three at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. He then entered the world of politics, working first on a campaign for a South Dakota senate candidate and then eleven years for then U.S. Senator Tom Daschle. For three years, Erpenbach was Daschle’s political director based in Washington, D.C., and for the other eight years, he was Daschle’s state director.

Three years ago, Erpenbach returned to Brookings and began his work with the SDSU Foundation. Until he took over his new position on Jan. 1, 2008, Erpenbach was the Vice President of Development.

With the new job come new responsibilities.

Erpenbach’s day-to-day activities include working with President David Chicoine and the deans of the different colleges. The deans and Chicoine identify needs for scholarships or buildings, and then Erpenbach takes these ideas out to alumni or corporations that are willing to support the projects.

“[The Foundation’s] only reason for existing is to support SDSU causes,” Erpenbach said. An average of $300,000 per week comes through the Foundation to support the university and its programs, such as the Jackrabbit Guarantee, and about $15 million is raised every year.

Apart from managing the Foundation’s $120 million in assets, Erpenbach will also be in charge of the Foundation’s upcoming capital campaign, making this a “challenging but important time” for the new Foundation president.

A capital campaign is when the Foundation takes the needs of the university, such as a need for buildings or programs, and presents these to donors. “It becomes a rallying point for us to go to our donors to talk about taking SDSU to the next level,” Erpenbach said.

The last capital campaign, Visions for the Future, was completed ten years ago, and that project generated $50 million for SDSU over a five-year period. Erpenbach estimates that the upcoming campaign-which will probably take place over the next six or seven years and for which the Foundation is currently doing studies-will be substantially larger and that six to ten new buildings will be built from the campaign’s funds.

Due to the increasing enrollment, creating new scholarships is another goal of the new campaign. Erpenbach said, “It’s going to be important for us to offer more and more scholarship opportunities to continue to grow and attract the right students.”

President Chicoine also sees the importance of the Foundation and its projects, such as these campaigns. “The Foundation’s expertise in generating and managing resources allows South Dakota State to excel, which helps us create a better South Dakota,” he said in an SDSU Foundation news release.

Although his job might be challenging and stressful at times, Erpenbach is not complaining. “To have an opportunity to work on a daily basis for your alma mater ? is a great opportunity,” he said, “and I feel fortunate to have that chance.”

Erpenbach’s position is also not without its fair share of humor. Back at the end of his freshman year at SDSU, all the residents of Binnewies Hall, including Erpenbach, were displaced and not allowed to live in Binnewies Hall for the next year. That decision was made by Michael Reger, who was the head of housing at the time but is now the Vice President for Administration. Reger and Erpenbach work together a lot now, and so the former “Binnewies Refugee” Erpenbach joked, “I had to make sure if I took this job, Mike Reger couldn’t kick me out of my home.”

Erpenbach is married to Michelle Harvey, and the couple has three children: Max, 18, Jack, 14, and Grace, 12.

#1.882914:3630731005.jpg:erpenbach,steve.jpg:Steve Erpenbach, new Foundation President and CEO: