A conversation with a woman of sassy style and SDSU substance

Hallie Thomas

Hallie Thomas

Q: Please state your full name.

A: Peggy Gordon Miller.

Q:And you are from?

A: I grew up in a town in southwestern Kentucky called Mayfield.

Q:And where did you go to school?

A: I received my bachelor’s degree and an honorary doctorate from Transylvania University which is the oldest university west of the Alleghenies.

I got my masters from Northwestern University where I’m also a distunguished alum in education and social policy.

I also have a doctorate degree from Indiana University. My son and daughter are always kidding me, telling me I’m going to take classes as long as they print catalogs.

Q: And your position?

A: President of South Dakota State University.

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

A: There are so many things that I don’t know if I can say.

I think that the students are the most rewarding.

On a tough day I only have to go the Union to feel better.

Another wonderful aspect are the faculty and the staff.

They really care about the students and many times put the students before themselves.

They really want it to be a good place to teach and learn.

Q: What’s the least favorite part of your job?

A: Not having enough dollars for the wondeful things students and faculty can do.

Maybe I can become friends with Bill Gates or win the lottery so there’s money for people.

There really is no telling how many good projects and ideas never really come to life because we can’t buy the time or equipment for them.

Q: What do you find most exciting about SDSU?

A: The promise of all of these bright, new students.

Every year there’s a new combination of minds at a university.

You cannot predict the interfaces and synergies that could occur and the ideas that can come out.

Every year its a present of a new class that good things can come out of.

Never in the universe before have these minds been together and there are always enormous possibilities.

Q:What have been your favorite classes in your long academic career?

A: Any class where you could read, as well as science classes.

Q: What were your least favorite classes?

A: Without hesitation I say French. We were in an experimental immersion group and that was the wrong technique for me.

I learned enough to survive.

Lets just say I will never starve to death in France, but I sure would hate to have to make a speech.

Q: What’s your biggest piece of advice for students?

A: Take advantage of everything, not each other, but everything.

Try out all the things the university has to offer, but not beer and driving fast.

Show up and learn about women’s soccer, anthropology or the Art Musuem.

This is the only time in your life when you are invited to explore.

Adlai Stevenson once said that college is the “last great springtime.”