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Thin Elk Leaves USD with Lasting Impression on Credit Hour

Gene Thin Elk Gene Thin Elk shares memories from his 35 years at USD on Credit Hour.

Vermillion, S.D. – Gene Thin Elk, former director of Native Student Services (NSS) and longtime employee of the University of South Dakota, discusses the past, present and future of the university on this week’s Credit Hour podcast.

Thin Elk spent over three decades at the university in a variety of roles such as a volunteer sweat lodge provider, adjunct professor and Native cultural advisor for students, faculty and staff. He served as NSS director – his final position at USD – for 15 years.

“As I turn around and look back from the higher hill, I see the tremendous amount of progress that has been made here at the university, all the way from race relations to opportunities to resources. I think equity is coming into balance, and recognition of our uniqueness without compromise has come to the university, so I think these things are very vital,” said Thin Elk.

An advocate for not only Native American students, but all of the university’s community, Thin Elk will be missed by many, said Michael Ewald, host of Credit Hour.

“For over 35 years, Gene Thin Elk advocated for Native American students at USD, creating a second home through the Native American Cultural Center,” Ewald said. “Gene speaks to us about what made his time at USD so special and meaningful."

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Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News