Alumni Green project honors SDSU legends Keith Jensen and V.J. Smith

If South Dakota State University had a Mount Rushmore for alumni relations, Keith Jensen, V.J. Smith and Jim Woster would occupy three of the spots.

They are carved into the university’s history as three of the most-traveled, most-familiar Jackrabbits. Friends and colleagues are showing gratitude by making gifts to the Alumni Green project in honor of Jensen, Smith and Jim and Penny Woster.

The Alumni Green is a two-block development on the west side of Medary Avenue that includes the SDSU Alumni Center connected to the Jerome J. Lohr Building and the President's Home that serves as the primary residence for the SDSU President. Both are signature hosting venues for alumni and friends.

Private funds led to the effort to honor Jensen, Smith and the Wosters in the Alumni Center. The board room is the Jensen-Smith Board Room, and the large entertainment space is Woster Celebration Hall.

Friends, classmates and former Alumni Association and Foundation leadership are among those behind the charge to raise money in their honor.

“At its core, the Alumni Green embodies what these individuals have done for decades: bringing people together and reminding everyone why SDSU is such a special place.”

> Steve Erpenbach, President and CEO of the SDSU Foundation

Jensen, a 1956 graduate, was the first full-time Executive Director of the Alumni Association. He was the principal fundraiser to construct the Tompkins Alumni Center in the mid-1970s.

Smith ‘78 was the brainchild and chief researcher for The College on the Hill, a sense of SDSU history that he co-authored. Smith was Executive Director from 1996 to 2006 before pursuing a public-speaking career full-time.

Fundraising efforts will continue until the final goal is met. The opportunities range from gifts of $50,000 or more to sponsor spaces within the Alumni Center to $1,000 for a brass plaque on distinct features carved out of original limestone from the Campanile in a plaza area along Medary Avenue. Donors making gifts of $5,000 or more will be recognized permanently within both the Alumni Center and the President's Home.