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Profiles of Giving


Alumni pheasant-hunting event supports scholarships

Left: Alumni and friends gather at Gunbarrel Ranch in December 2022 for the 4th annual pheasant-hunting fundraiser.

Gunbarrel Ranch is not just another good place to go pheasant hunting in South Dakota.  The 2200-acre private ranch sits in a narrow sweet spot where all four upland hunting birds reside: pheasants, partridge, prairie chickens, and grouse.  Steve Grove (ChE 71), the ranch owner, has specifically designed and plants the ranch for the ultimate hunting experience.  The 12,000-square foot luxury lodge has 10 large guest suites showcasing western history. Gourmet dining is complimented by an extensive wine cellar. 

Gunbarrel Ranch is hunted only during four, three-day hunts each year. One of these occasions is a fundraiser for South Dakota Mines, which has generated more than $275,000 for the unrestricted scholarship fund since its inception. 

Come join us next year in supporting students and experiencing upland bird hunting at its best. Contact for more information. 

Those interested in attending this event in the future can expect:

•    15-20 high quality shots at fast-flying pheasants each day
•    Watching the skilled guides and their five Labradors work the fields like an orchestra
•    Engaging conversations with other alumni sharing life lessons and personal stories
•    A special evening with the President of South Dakota Mines which includes discussions about the university’s future
•    Three days and four nights of relaxation, rejuvenation, and enjoyment

Thank you to everyone who has supported this effort in years past!

-    Paul Axtell (ChE 68) 

January 2023


The world needs more engineers - and Rich & Trudy wells are dedicated to helping Mines produce the very best 

If you ask Trudy (ChE 84) and Rich Wells (ChE 82) what this world needs more of, their answer would be: engineers. 

“We need more problem solvers,” said Rich, former vice president at Dow, I’ve seen a lot of engineers during my professional career, and I feel like I can objectively say that South Dakota Mines is at the top in terms of producing people who know how to solve a problem and make something better.” 

That’s why Trudy and Rich have not only given a generous $1 million donation to the university’s New Heights campaign, but they’ve decided to retire in Rapid City so they can donate their time to Mines. 

“It goes back to everything this university has given us,” said Trudy, who also spent time at Dow as well as 3M, as a development officer. “Mines has given us the foundation to do what we were able to do all those years. And it’s been a very satisfying career.”

Trudy and Rich met when they were students at Mines in the early 80s, but it wasn’t until a Mines reunion in 1985 that both realized they may have found their life partner. Their careers took them to Texas, the Netherlands, Michigan and then back to Texas. Rich, who grew up in Austin, MN, compares their choice to retire in Rapid City to his choice to attend Mines instead of the University of Minnesota. 

“I was all set to go to the University of Minnesota, but my dad said, ‘Don’t discount that School of Mines place,’ he said. So, he visited campus with his mother and fell in love with the personality of the campus as he saw students interacting on the quad. He also appreciated the individualized attention he received from the department head, who was curious about his goals and didn’t hesitate to arrange meetings with other professors. By noon Rich told his mother, “This is where I’m coming.” 

Continue reading here.

June 2022


Abby Hart started giving back because she could - now, she's creating a legacy at Mines

Most students don’t start giving back to their alma mater immediately following graduation. But Abby Hart (IE/Math 12) of Sidney, MT isn’t most students. Right after starting her first job, she started supporting scholarships at South Dakota Mines. Now, 10 years later, she’s decided to move from an annual scholarship gift to an endowed scholarship fund.

“It’s a choice that depends on your personal situation and financial state, but I think when most people reflect on their time at Mines - the highlights and all the great things they gained from being a student here – they will realize the value of giving back,” she said. 

Abby, Material Flow Engineer with John Deere in Horicon, WI, has many great memories of friends and a lot of gratitude for her professors; but one thing she’ll never forget is how helpful it was to receive many scholarships. 

“Those kinds of things I remember and am very grateful for,” she said. “That’s why when I left school, I thought ‘I have a really good job now, so why not? I was given these opportunities as a student, so because I can, I should give back.’” 

Continue reading here.

June 2022