On April 23, South Dakota State University Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Mary Kay Helling announced her retirement effective June 21 this summer.
Helling, who has served in SDSU’s Office of Academic Affairs as assistant vice president of academic affairs since 2003, helped establish the College of Education and Human Sciences. She was also the head of the former Department of Human Development, Consumer and Family Sciences from 1992-2003.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to have worked with the faculty, staff, students and administration at South Dakota State University,” she said. “I have loved the work, enjoyed my colleagues and learned something new every day. I am so thankful for the many opportunities, the widespread support and commitment to excellence while serving at SDSU.”
Helling received her undergraduate and master’s degree from SDSU. She also received her doctorate at Purdue University in 1992 through funding from a Bush Leadership Fellowship in 1989.
Helling has been involved in research regarding identity development of American Indian high school and college students. Along with this, she assisted in studying the international transfer of the family farm or ranch through sociology and rural studies.
She has provided leadership and assistance in projects addressing student success, program review, institutional accreditation, faculty development, curriculum development, academic policies and procedures, along with various other special projects.
“Dr. Helling had enjoyed a long and distinguished career at SDSU and her accomplishments during that time are second to none,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dennis Hedge said. “Mary Kay’s efforts to lead us through two 10-year institutional accreditation reviews has positioned our university for long-term success.”
During her time at SDSU, Helling served as interim dean of the Graduate School, interim dean of University College and inaugural director of the Ness Division of Management and Economics.
She was named one of the 25 semifinalists for the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award in 2020. Along with her other projects, Helling did extensive teaching regarding human development theory, early childhood education practices and research methods and strategies for working with parents and families. Helling also served as an academic advisor at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
Helling helped to establish partnerships with the tribal colleges and universities in South Dakota, as well. She collaborated with faculty and staff at Oglala Lakota College, Sinte Gleska University and Sisseton Wahpeton College assessing student learning, program review and accreditation-related services.
“[Dr. Helling] has provided leadership and fostered innovation in many critical areas and will certainly be missed. I wish Mary Kay all the best in retirement,” Hedge said.