2:25 p.m., Sept. 7, 2010----When the South Dakota State University football team ventures east to take on the University of Delaware on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 11, at Delaware Stadium, the Jackrabbits will bring with them a Blue Hen.
South Dakota State President David L. Chicoine earned a master's degree in agricultural economics from UD's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1971. He also received a bachelor's degree from South Dakota State in 1969, a master's in economics from Western Illinois University in 1978 and a doctorate in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois in 1979.
Chicoine, who was named president of South Dakota State in 2007, said he and his wife, Marcia, have fond memories of their time spent in Delaware.
He said the move to Delaware in 1969 marked their first time east of the Mississippi River and proved to be an “interesting and exciting life experience.” They brought with them a one-month-old son and arrived at a time of unrest, with Wilmington only recently removed from the watch of the Delaware National Guard following riots.
Chicoine said their first connections were with the faculty and fellow graduate students, and he cited Raymond C. Smith, then the chair of his department, as well as Ulrich C. Toensmeyer and Joachim Elterich. He also said his thesis adviser, Gerald L. Cole, “was first rate.”
Working both in Newark and Southern Delaware, Chicoine said the young family enjoyed seeing the Atlantic Ocean -- the first time they had viewed an ocean beach -- and eating soft shell crabs. They enjoyed the Delaware and Chesapeake bays, learned about the Delmarva Peninsula and visited many sites in the Brandywine Valley.
“It was a transformational period for us -- a great, great experience,” Chicoine said. “We liked the campus, which was larger and very different from the northern Great Plain prairie landscape of South Dakota State.”
Chicoine said his thesis research project was funded by a regional project on the economic impact of seasonal residents on bay and shore communities, and included the collection of original attitudinal data from permanent residents and seasonal residents of those communities.
He spent the summer of 1970 collecting data in Southern Delaware, and said “the focus of the project was on financing the needed infrastructure to accommodate the growth in seasonal residents -- sewer, water, roads, public safety -- and the efficiency for such given the several jurisdictions in play, the impact on the bay and shore aesthetics and natural environment, and then, of course, methods for funding the capital costs of infrastructure and the annual operating costs.”
Away from the beaches, Chicoine said Southern Delaware was “similar to rural South Dakota but with more poultry operations and specialty crops.”
Chicoine said UD graduate school “prepared us well for the work world, for additional studies and for life.”
He entertained several fine job offers after graduating, accepting a position at the University of Illinois as a regional economist working on rural economic development. He remained at Urbana-Champaign for more than 30 years, receiving his doctorate and serving as a faculty member, department head, dean and vice president.
He returned to his home state and alma mater in January 2007 as president of South Dakota State.
Chicoine said he and Marcia returned to UD about 20 years ago while in the Washington, D.C., area on business. “The University, of course, was significantly different than when we were on campus,” he said. “I am looking forward to seeing the campus and the changes that have occurred.”
Chicoine added, “And we are excited about the football game. UD has been an established football FCS program for years, competing in postseason play routinely. I took in a few games in fall of '69 and fall of '70. South Dakota State is a new kid on the FCS block, having our first postseason experience in 2009, but we play good football. The game-day experience will be great for our players, our coaches and staff and our alumni in the Philadelphia, Baltimore and D.C. region. It will be exciting, but UD will have a game under their belt and the Jacks will be lining up for their opener. I look forward to seeing a great football game, seeing the UD campus again and reminiscing a little of the terrific times.”
The Blue Hens defeated West Chester University 31-0 in the season opener Sept. 2. South Dakota State is ranked No. 9 nationally.
To follow University of Delaware athletics, see BlueHens.com.
Article by Neil Thomas
Photo courtesy South Dakota State University