Dr. Harry Thompson Named CWS Executive Director

SIOUX FALLS, SD – Augustana President Rob Oliver has appointed Dr. Harry Thompson executive director of the Center for Western Studies (CWS). The appointment was unanimously approved by the Augustana Board of Trustees.

Thompson, who has been serving as the interim executive director since August, 2009, has been at CWS since 1984. He succeeds Dr. Arthur Huseboe, who became director emeritus on July 31, 2009.

Thompson has held a variety of positions at CWS, including archivist, curator, managing editor, and most recently, director of research collections and book publications, and director of the Dakota History Conference. From 1984 to 1987 he was also a part-time member of the Augustana English Department. In addition, he served as the CWS interim director in 1989.

He holds master’s degrees in American Studies (Baylor University) and English (University of Rochester) and a Ph.D. in English from the University of South Dakota, with specialization in historical and literary theory. He has taught English at both the high school and college levels and holds a certificate in archives administration from the National Archives and Records Administration.

“Dr. Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position,” Dr. Mark Braun, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the college said. “Besides his longevity with the Center and Augustana, he brings exceptional experience in writing, researching and fund-raising, and has a deep understanding of the Northern Plains and how that relates to the mission of the Center. He also has a vision to strengthen the Center, both on-campus, and in the community and region.”

In 2009, Thompson was elected as an associate fellow of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Great Plains Studies. Associate fellows are persons not presently holding regular appointments at The University of Nebraska, but who have a professional interest in the purposes and programs of the Center. He was nominated by award-winning Native American author Allison Hedge Coke, holder of the Reynolds Chair in Writing at The University of Nebraska-Kearney.

Thompson is the editor of more than 20 books for CWS, including A New South Dakota History, and author of several scholarly articles utilizing the CWS manuscript collections.

During the 2010 January Interim, Thompson taught “Unlocking the Archives: The Search for Authenticity” to 18 students. The new course is part of Augustana’s Northern Plains Studies minor and also meets requirements of the anthropology major. The course is designed to provide students with access to and understanding of the remarkable collection of primary resource materials in the Center’s archives.

President Oliver has also appointed Thompson to serve on Augustana’s Higher Learning Commission Self-Study Steering Committee as part of Augustana’s North Central Accreditation process.

Thompson and his wife, Ronelle Thompson, director of the Mikkelsen Library, have two children: Clarissa, Augustana class of 2009, and Hal, a freshman at Augustana.

Bruce Conley
Director, News Information
Phone: 605.274.5526
Fax: 605.274.4903