CWS Celebrated Its Founding in 2019 and 2020

The Center for Western Studies recently observed a very special moment in its own history. The double anniversary celebration was called “CWS 55/50” and was proposed by Executive Director Dr. Harry Thompson and affirmed by the Board of Directors as part of the CWS Strategic Plan 2020. Through “CWS 55/50” the Center sought to observe not only the 50th year since the Augustana Board of Trustees officially established CWS (“expanded,” as it was termed), but also the 55th year of its creation by Professor of English Herbert Krause. Planning got underway in 2017.

Several of the Center’s public events planned for the 50th anniversary year in 2020 had to be canceled or rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic. After three months of working at home, CWS staff returned to their offices in June 2020 and reopened the Fantle Building to the campus and public in July. The 52nd Dakota Conference on the women’s vote and immigration, originally scheduled for April 2020, was canceled, but the Center invited those whose presentations were scheduled to consider giving them at the 53rd conference. The 24th Boe Forum on genetic engineering, with Drs. Robert Green and Jamie Metzl, was rescheduled and presented virtually on March 15, 2021. 

The 40th Anniversary Artists of the Plains Show & Sale was rescheduled from 2020 to 2021. Upon the recommendation of the Art Committee, the Board of Directors had returned that event to its original fall season, and will be held this year on November 5-7. During the interim, CWS presented the Center’s first Summer Arts Celebration, July 16-18, in downtown Sioux Falls. 

In 1965, with the idea of a western studies center already in mind, Krause and Assistant Professor of History William Wyatt submitted a grant proposal to the Rockefeller Foundation to undertake the Center’s first project, “Changing Social Patterns on the Lingering Frontier.” A 50th anniversary history of CWS was recently completed by Harry Thompson and will be published in the summer of 2021 with the main title taken from the first line in O.E. Rölvaag’s "Giants in the Earth": "'Bright, Clear Sky Over a Plain So Wide': The Center for Western Studies, 1964-2020."

Lead up to the Anniversary Years: 2016-2018

  • The EDDA yearbook published feature article on CWS: “The Center for Western Studies Preserves History”
  • “Eye on KELOLAND” television program featured the Center’s upcoming 50th anniversary
  • Published the educational supplement to the new permanent museum exhibit "Voices of the Northern Plains"
  • Acquired several works of original art through gift and purchase, including twelve paintings in the “Little House on the Prairie” series by Eugene Christopherson, and works by Emil Her Many Horses, Dave Johnson, Donald F. Montileaux, Natalie Rostad-Desjarlais, Don Schellhouse, and Judy Thompson
  • Invited to participate in C-SPAN’s “Cities Tour” Series: interviews with CWS authors for Book TV and a tour of "Voices of the Northern Plains" exhibit for History TV
  • Updated the electronic records for the Center’s Fine Art and Non-accessioned Art Collections, a project completed by graduate intern Katie Retterath under the supervision of Collections Assistant Liz Cisar
  • Commissioned Augustana Writer-in-Residence Patrick Hicks to write an introduction to the reprint of Herbert Krause’s most popular novel, "The Thresher"
  • Inaugurated Public Affairs Series with publication of "Conservation on the Northern Plains," edited by Anthony J. Amato
  • Commissioned Sicangu Lakota artist Paul Szabo to design a new “CWS” silver pin
  • Launched Founders Campaign to grow endowments from $9.1 to $10 million, with businessman Darwin Sletten as Honorary Campaign Chair
  • Commissioned National Advisory Council member Christel Gollnick to oversee design of “CWS 55/50” double anniversary logo
  • Board and Council began discussing “Big Ideas for the Future of CWS”

55th Anniversary Year 2019

  • Presented the 23rd Boe Forum on Public Affairs, with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, on “Power, the Press, and the Presidency”
  • Developed underwriting partnership with independent investigative journalism organization South Dakota News Watch
  • Brought new audience to CWS with 51st Dakota Conference on “Health Care and Health Policy”
  • Fulfilling the Native American Initiative, Education Assistant Kristi Thomas curated the gallery exhibits "11 Degrees of Tatanka" by Jerry Fogg, and "Seven Generations: Mending the Hoop" by Carolyn D. Landon; also curated "Sioux Falls in Color: The Artwork of Rodger Ellingson"
  • Student interns developed several historical exhibits, including “The 1970 Occupation of Bergsaker Hall,” “Pipes of the Great Plains,” and “Celebrating 50 Years: The Center for Western Studies"
  • Guided by the Art Collecting Plan, continued to increase Fine Art Collection by acquiring original art by Geoffrey Hoffman, Nancyjane Huehl, Ron McKewon, and Joseph Stuart
  • Presented the Western America Award to Dr. Marcella LeBeau and Friends of CWS Award to philanthropists Darwin and Jane Sletten
  • Reprinted the popular "The Quartzite Border: Surveying and Marking the North Dakota-South Dakota Boundary, 1891-1892," by Gordon L. Iseminger
  • Published second volume in the Public Affairs Series: "The Interior Borderlands: Regional Identity in the Midwest and Great Plains," edited by Jon K. Lauck; book was honored in 2019 with a panel discussion at the Western History Association conference in Las Vegas and in 2020 with a Midwest Book Award
  • For the first time since his research visit in 1992, businessman and philanthropist Tom Deupree, of Florida, returned to CWS to see the Voices of the Northern Plains exhibit and other projects the Deupree Family Foundation had supported over the intervening years
  • The EDDA yearbook published feature articles on CWS: “Preserve and Protect: The Center for Western Studies Maintains Sense of the Past” (pp. 80-81) and “truth is our guide”: 23rd Boe Forum with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (pp. 84-85)
  • Offered first escape room challenge, based on the university archives, during Augustana’s Semester Shutdown: "Decoding Ole: The Great Escape"
  • Invited by Provost Dr. Colin Irvine, Executive Director Dr. Harry Thompson reported to the Academic Affairs Committee of the Augustana University Board of Trustees on the occasion of the CWS’s 50th Anniversary

50th Anniversary Year: 2020