VERMILLION, S.D. -- Charles “Chuck” Swick, director of TRIO programs at The University of South Dakota, is the 2009 recipient of the John R. Williams Award. This award, which is presented annually by the Native American Recruitment and Retention Committee, is presented to an individual, staff or program in recognition of significant contributions to American Indian students at The U.
Swick, chairperson of American Indian Recruitment and Retention at The U, is a 1972 graduate of USD. As a college student, he worked with Upward Bound as a mentor and social-recreation director for four summers. Following graduation, Swick joined the staff at USD and served as an assistant director with Upward Bound before eventually serving as the program’s director. During more than three decades of service, Swick helped developed Educational Talent Search, Math and Science Initiative programs, and Student Support Services at USD. Student Support Services is a grant-funded program supported by the U.S. Department of Education with a primary goal of improving the retention and graduation rates of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"His continued leadership in chairing the Native American Recruitment and Retention Committee at USD has been invaluable," stated Thomas Sorensen, associate dean of law, USD School of Law. "Count on Chuck when others don't take the reins. He is not along for the ride; he is leading the way and carrying many of us."
Sorensen, who was one of three who nominated Swick for the award, noted Swick's gift of leadership for "investing in (young people) to help them aspire to improve their lives." Jolane Tomhave, project coordinator, INMED Satellite Office, and Gerald Yutrzenka, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences at The U, reiterated Sorensen’s praise in their nomination of Swick, noting "he is a rock in the world of USD Native American education" and he has "forged personal and professional bonds that have been instrumental in furthering the cause of diversity and equality at USD."
Swick was presented with the John R. Williams Award during USD's first ever Native American student graduate honoring at the Al Neuharth Media Center on May 8. The award was established in 2002 to honor the many contributions made by Williams to USD. Williams, who grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, earned a doctorate in education from The U in 1975. While at USD, Williams developed, directed and taught in the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Studies Department from 1973 until his death in September 2001.
A photograph of Swick is available for download at www.usd.edu/urelations/images/Chuck_Swick.jpg.