Dickinson State University announces interim vice president; recipient of first endowment

It’s been a busy week for Dickinson State University who announced an appointment to the position of interim vice president/provost and the first recipient of the Rob & Melani Walton Endowed Chair in Theodore Roosevelt Studies.

Dickinson State University President Steve Easton is pictured.
Dickinson State University President Steve Easton.
Dickinson Press file photo

DICKINSON — Dickinson State University announced on Wednesday that John Miller has been selected and appointed to the position of interim vice president and provost, effective July 22, 2022.

The new appointment comes following the resignation of Debora Dragseth, who stepped down from the position and returned to a faculty position following a family illness in April.

Miller was most recently appointed by the state Board of Higher Education to the position of President of Williston State College, following the resignation of Raymond Nadolny, he was previously the vice president for academic affairs.

John Miller was named the interim vice president and provost at Dickinson State University, effective Friday, July 22, 2022.
Photo courtesy of John Miller

A career educator with 38 years of teaching and administrative experience spanning both K-12 and post-secondary education, Miller has a doctorate in education from the University of Idaho and currently is licensed with teaching and administrative credentials through September 2022.

Prior to his time as president of Williston State College, Miller was the Instructional Dean for Off-Campus Education at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls for a decade.


“I am thrilled to be joining the DSU family and look forward to working with faculty, staff and students this fall,” Miller said. “Everyone I have met so far has been gracious and supportive, and it encourages me to meet and get to know even more of my colleagues at DSU.”

Miller's K-12 education background as a secondary teacher, building principal and central office administrator witnessed him act as an online administrator from 2006 to 2015 for the Idaho Digital Learning Alliance's virtual high school.

A native of Idaho, he was an active contributor in the development and administration of a statewide broadband system that connected high schools with college and university partners for delivery of dual credit — a project he remains committed to.

Speaking on the new appointment, DSU President Dr. Steve Easton said that Miller stood out among a list of qualified candidates for the position.

“DSU’s search committee did great work, presenting several strong candidates for consideration for the position,” Easton said. “We are thrilled to have Dr. Miller joining us. His substantial experience in teaching and administration will serve our students, faculty, staff, and community well. As we further our Dual Mission efforts, including work with the Southwest Area Career and Technical Education Academy, his experience leading career and technical programs will be invaluable.”

Theodore Roosevelt Studies Endowment named

Dr. Michael Cullinane, renowned historian, was named the the Rob & Melani Walton Endowed Chair in Theodore Roosevelt Studies at Dickinson State University in July of 2022.
Photo courtesy of Dickinson State University

Dr. Michael Patrick Cullinane was named the first recipient of the Rob and Melani Walton Endowed Chair in Theodore Roosevelt Studies in a press release issued by Dickinson State University on Thursday.

The endowment was established through a $2 million capital fund provided by the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation for a position expected to provide a leading role in critically analyzing the life, career and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt.

The award will provide Cullinane with the institutional support and funding to enhance research, teaching and service in that cause.


Easton thanked the foundation and noted his thoughts on how the forthcoming work on the life of the former U.S. president, coupled with a separate endowment in U.S. History, will shape scholarship on the subject.

“Thanks to the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation’s generous gift, Dickinson State University has added a second, prestigious endowed chair,” Easton said. “The Rob and Melani Walton Endowed Chair in Theodore Roosevelt Studies will join the Dennis and Vaune Johnson Chair in U.S. History to put DSU at the forefront of Roosevelt-era scholarship.”

According to Dickinson State University, Cullinane's new position requires an understanding of and commitment to original historical research and publication, undergraduate student success and partnership with local stakeholders.

Miller, the newly appointed interim vice president and provost, shared his thoughts on the importance of this position.

“Theodore Roosevelt continues to be an iconic presence in American history and in the history of the Dakotas. He was a multi-dimensional leader, both progressive and pragmatic, a committed conservationist and unabashed proponent of American expansion around the world," Miller said. "His actions and resulting legacy provide a wealth of research, enrichment and writing opportunities for all students of American history.”

Cullinane is being touted by Dickinson State University as one of the world’s foremost scholars of Theodore Roosevelt and the era the roughrider president lived. As the author of “Theodore Roosevelt’s Ghost: The History and Memory of an American Icon,” which received the Theodore Roosevelt Association prize, Cullinane has made a name for himself among similar scholars of the 26th President of the United States. He is also the co-editor of three books and author of “Liberty and American Anti-Imperialism” (2012). Cullinane hosts a popular and well-respected podcast entitled “The Gilded Age and Progressive Era” and has appeared in several documentaries.

In his work, Cullinane has unearthed long-forgotten interviews from Roosevelt’s wide circle of friends, colleagues and family members.

Easton shared his excitement in bringing the renowned scholar to DSU.


“Dr. Cullinane is an impressive historian and author. We are proud that he will be representing Dickinson State University as an integral part of our Theodore Roosevelt initiative," Easton said. "He will be bringing much to our community, our university and most importantly, our students. We are delighted that current and future students will have the opportunity to learn with and from an internationally esteemed scholar of American history.”

Addressing the endowment, Cullinane remarked on his goals for his forthcoming work.

“I aim to inspire students to achieve their very best and to develop a passion for the study and skills associated with being a historian,” Cullinane said. “From my experiences as a student, I know the power of an inspirational teacher and believe my work follows in that tradition.”

James B. Miller, Jr. is the Editor of The Dickinson Press in Dickinson, North Dakota. He strives to bring community-driven, professional and hyper-local focused news coverage of southwest North Dakota.
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