State Sen. Olson DSU commencement speaker

Russ OlsonDakota State University fall commencement is Saturday, Dec. 10, at 10:30 a.m. in the DSU Fieldhouse. Dakota State will award 38 masters, 66 baccalaureate and 14 associate degrees. The ceremony will also be streamed live online and can be accessed through the DSU website ( Amy Pheneger, a physical education graduate from Champlin, M.N., is speaking on behalf of the graduates.

South Dakota Senate Majority Leader, Russell Olson serves as this year’s commencement speaker. Olson’s interest in politics sparked in college at the University of South Dakota when his mentor and advisor, Dr. W.O. Farber, convinced him to run for and win a seat on the USD Student Senate. From that point on, Olson knew that a career in public service would be the path for him.

Olson graduated from USD where he earned BS degrees in English and political science, eventually completing his MA degree in public administration at USD as well. After a short stint in the private sector, Olson worked for the South Eastern Council of Governments as Land Use Planner and was then selected to work for the SD Governor’s Office of Economic Development. He also served as the Executive Director for the Lake Area Improvement Corporation and is currently employed as Manager of Community and Economic Development for Heartland Consumers Power District in Madison, S.D.

Olson served in the South Dakota House of Representatives from 2007-2008 and currently serves in the Senate where he was elected Senate Majority Leader at the beginning of his second term.

Olson’s wife, Jennie, is a nurse at the North Central Heart Cath Lab and Inter Lakes Medical Clinic in Madison. They have four children, Ben, Anna, Victoria and Gordon.

Last Updated: 1/10/12