Robert V. Burns Papers

Identity elements

Reference code

UA 053.019

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Robert V. Burns Papers


  • 1968-2008 (Accumulation)


4.0 linear feet (4 records center boxes)

Name of creator


Biographical history

Robert (Bob) Burns was born in Flandreau in 1942. He is the youngest of six children of the late Joseph and Marie Burns. He developed a habit of participation and assumption of leadership roles while attending Flandreau High School. His high school leadership roles and academic success paid dividends in the form of a four year Briggs Scholarship awarded him by SDSU in mid-summer of 1960.

Bob graduated from SDSU in June of 1964 with a BS in Political Science and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt in the US Army through ROTC later that summer. The spring of 1964 also marked his marriage to Donna Bozied. The University of Missouri-Columbia awarded him a full ride three year National Defense Fellowship in their political science doctoral program.

Bob subsequently earned a MA (1966) and a PhD (1973) in Political Science from the University of Missouri- Columbia with the financial support of his Fellowship and Donna’s earned salary. Bob reported for active duty at Ft. Benning, Georgia as an officer in the US Army. Bob’s two year active duty time (1968-1970) included one year as an Army Captain in Vietnam. He was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster while serving in Vietnam.

While serving in Vietnam, Bob was invited by his undergraduate mentor, Professor Hendrickson, to join the political science faculty of SDSU for a one year term appointment. His one year term appointment was transformed into a 38 year professional life due to some fortunate circumstances and the endorsement of students, colleagues and superiors. During his tenure at SDSU he received many teaching awards including being named College of Arts and Sciences “Teacher of the Year” seven different years, Burlington Northern Faculty Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching (1989), Distinguished Professor of Political Science in 1994 by the SD Board of Regents and 1995 South Dakota Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching. He also served as department head for the Departments of Political Science and Philosophy and Religion for nearly 20 years. He served as Acting Director of the USD Farber Center from January to July, 1998 while on leave from SDSU. During the last ten years of his tenure at SDSU he served first as Director and later as the first Dean of the SDSU Honors College while continuing his teaching and department head duties. He also assumed many leadership roles on several key campus organizations during his SDSU tenure. Early in his career, his nine month teaching contract afforded him an opportunity to do summer policy research for Governors Kneip, Wollman and Janklow and serve as a Humanist- in- Residence for the SD Committee on Humanities three separate summers.

Upon his retirement in June, 2008, the SD Board of Regents honored him with the titles Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Dean Emeritus of the SDSU Honors College. He was also honored as a SDSU Distinguished Alumnus for Service to Education by the SDSU Alumni Association in 2008. He continues to be a well-known print and broadcast media commentator on South Dakota and national government, politics and legal issues. Bob has also received recognition for community service. He served on the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education (1997-1998) and he continues service as a SD Commissioner on the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (1996-present). His belief that democracy requires active citizen engagement and a strong civil society has prompted him to serve on and sometimes lead multiple state and local civic and government boards, commissions, task forces and councils during his professional life. That service continues into retirement as evidenced by his chairing the SD Budget and Policy Institute and the SD World Affairs Council in addition to regular teaching of OLLI courses in Sioux Falls and Brookings.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection is composed of the papers of Robert V. Burns. The bulk of the collection is related to the NAFTA Conference arranged by Dr. Burns in 2000, the South Dakota Executive Branch reorganization, and material associated with his involvement as a commissioner on the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (W.I.C.H.E.).

The NAFTA Conference material deals with the Canadian/United States Agricultural Trade Issues Emerging form NAFTA conference. Included is correspondence with participants, and government officials, publications, publicity, talking points, conference proceedings, and a copy of South Dakota governor William Janklow's keynote speech. The South Dakota Executive Branch Reorganization includes material associated with the Citizen's Commission on Executive Reorganization on which Dr. Burns served. The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) is composed meeting agenda books and publications of the commission.

Also included are minutes, agenda and correspondence associated with the various committees and commissions on which Burns served, such as the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education, the Constitutional Revision Commission, files pertaining to railroad safety in Brookings, South Dakota, judicial elections, and a file pertaining to his State Representative campaign in 1980.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

This collection is open to researchers without restrictions. The materials in the Archives do not circulate and may be used in-house only.

Researchers conducting extensive research are asked to make an advance appointment to access archival material. Please call or e-mail prior to visiting the collection and indicate as much detail as possible about a particular topic and intended use.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

South Dakota State University supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted as a result of their fragile condition or by contractual agreements with donors.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Related descriptions

Notes element

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)




UA 53.19

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Sources used

Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Accession area