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Oct. 2, 2010

Alumni get honors at Legacy Banquet

Ross Dolan • The Daily Republic

Dakota Wesleyan University alumni met at the Sherman Center Friday for a Legacy Banquet that recognized the generosity of successful graduates and honored three of their most eminent graduates.

The event saw former Sen. George McGovern receive the DWU’s “Alumnus of the Century” award.

The 2010 Distinguished Alumni Awards were given by each of the university’s three colleges. The college of Arts and Humanities honored history professor emeritus Jim McLaird; the college of Healthcare Fitness and Sciences, honored Carol Nogle Lucas; and the College of Leadership and Public Service honored McGovern.

McLaird, a celebrated South Dakota historian, graduated from DWU in 1962. He returned to his alma mater in 1967 to teach, and never left. His most recent book was “Wild Bill Hickok & Calamity Jane: Deadwood Legends” in 2008.

He authored DWU’s history “The Dakota Wesleyan University Memory Book, 1885-2010” to honor the school’s 125th anniversary.

McLaird shifted majors several times during his student years at DWU.

“My Weselyan experience was learning what I wanted to be,” he said.

Carol Nogle Lucas, class of 1961, said she parlayed a love of mathematics into a career in biomedical engineering. She was chairman of the University of North Carolina’s Department of Biomedical Engineering from 1989 to 2001.

Lucas was at the right place at the right time, she said, and her disciplines enabled her to combine her love of engineering and service.

She advised graduates to follow their passions. “Go for it,” she said. “The job will be there.”

Sen. George McGovern, class of 1946, said he got his love of history as a student at DWU, and while he didn’t go there for leadership training, it was at DWU that he learned he had a knack for it.

He called small, liberal arts colleges “jewels of the nation.”

“Wesleyan transformed my life for the better and gave me the confidence to tackle huge goals,” he said.

“Eleanor was the greatest gift that Wesleyan gave to me,” he said in a moment of tearful emotion, as he remembered his late wife.

McGovern said he had just two disappointments. One was the death of his daughter, Terry.

His other disappointment, he said, “and there’s no sense ducking this — is that I sure would have liked to have been president.”

“You honor us,” said DWU President Robert Duffett in closing remarks, “and we are inspired by your achievements.”

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