College of Leadership & Public Service
Don and Gerry (Morris) Bohning
Don and Gerry (Morris) Bohning will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Leadership and Public Service. Don Bohning, originally of Harrold, and Gerry Morris, originally of Ethan, met in 1953 while they were students at DWU. They graduated in 1955 and began their careers in Mitchell. Gerry taught elementary school, and Don worked as a journalist for the Mitchell Daily Republic. They are the parents to three children, Terry (deceased), Lee and Lori.
While Don served two years in the U.S. Army, Gerry earned her Master of Arts degree from the University of South Dakota. In 1959, Don and Gerry relocated to Florida where Don joined the staff of The Miami Herald. He was named the newspaper’s Latin America editor in 1967 and held that position until his retirement in 2000.
Over the course of 36 years as a foreign correspondent for The Miami Herald, he reported from every independent country in the Western Hemisphere. He is an award-winning journalist with a list of citations that includes the Inter-American Press Association Tom Wallace Award of Excellence for Latin America reporting, Overseas Press Club Award for coverage of Panama, winner of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize from Columbia University for coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean, Hal Boyle Overseas Press Club Award for best daily newspaper reporting of Grenada, Pulitzer Prize winner with Latin America editors and reporters of The Miami Herald for national reporting of the Iran Contra story, and the James Nelson Goodsell Award for outstanding Latin America reporting. His book, “The Castro Obsession: U.S. Covert Operations Against Cuba 1959-1965,” was published in 2006.
Gerry has dedicated her professional career to literacy. She completed a doctorate in reading from the University of Miami and in 1974 became a faculty member at Barry University where she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Education. She developed and directed the Graduate Alternative Elementary Education Program, retiring in 1999.
She is published in a multitude of educational journals and monographs. She has written or co-authored more than 40 articles and is co-author of the book, “Literature on the Move.” She was also a featured presenter at the International Research Society of Children’s Literature in Spain and the World Congress of Reading in Sweden and the Czech Republic. One of her many accolades includes receiving the Florida Reading Association’s Outstanding Service to Reading Award while serving as the organization’s president.
She also volunteers at the HOPE Outreach Center. Both Don and Gerry volunteer at the Fort Lauderdale Bienes Museum in the rare book department where they offer editing expertise.
Sen. George McGovern was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award for the College of Leadership and Public Service along with a special Alumnus of the Century Legacy of Leadership Award. He grew up in Avon and Mitchell, and stepped onto Dakota Wesleyan’s campus in 1940. While attending school at DWU, he met Eleanor Stegeberg ex’44, a native of Woonsocket. They were married in 1943 and had five children.
His time in college was interrupted by World War II, when he left school to fly B-24 bombing missions over Europe and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He returned to college and graduated in 1946. He then attended Garrett Seminary for one year before enrolling at Northwestern University in Chicago, where he earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in American history and government.
In 1950, he returned to DWU to teach history and political science for five years before leaving his position to enter politics. McGovern had a long and effective Congressional career, and he was the Democratic nominee for president of the United States in 1972.
In the years following his political career, McGovern has been actively working to eradicate world hunger. President John F. Kennedy named him the first director of the Food for Peace Program. In 1998, President Bill Clinton appointed him ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, and in 2001, he was appointed the first United Nations Global Ambassador on Hunger.
His honors are numerous, but certainly worth noting are his 2000 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, and the 2008 World Food Prize.
Paul and Donna Starr Christen
Paul and Donna Starr Christen received the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award for the College of Leadership and Public Service.
Paul and Donna have been sources of pride for Dakota Wesleyan University in the years since their graduation. Donna received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951 and Paul in 1950. They married following her graduation.
They have been involved in many facets of the business world, including retail, banking, wholesale distribution and professional sports. Aside from their professional lives, they have been involved in countless state and community organizations.
Donna was instrumental in the establishment of the Spirit of Dakota award, and she is a charter member of the South Dakota Judicial Qualifications Commission, appointed by the governor, serving from 1973 to 1978. She also served as an officer of the Methodist Hospital in Mitchell. She currently serves on the board of directors of the South Dakota Community Foundation. She is the cofounder and chairman of the Christen Hohm Lusk Greater Huron Area Foundation and chairman of the James and Zelda Ruddy Nursing Scholarship Foundation.
Paul, too, has received many awards, including the first Excellence in Economic Development award in 1994, given by the South Dakota Governor’s office in honor of the late Gov. George S. Mickelson. Currently, he serves as president and CEO of Christen Group, LLC, and is an officer of CG Properties and Christen Company, all in Huron. Paul generously gave 12 consecutive years to Dakota Wesleyan by serving on the DWU Board of Trustees. For six of those years, he served as chairman of the board.
Donna and Paul established and served as officers for several First Western foundations in the communities of Belle Fourche, Custer, Hot Springs, Spearfish, Sturgis and Wall.
In addition to their many other awards, they received the Outstanding South Dakota Philanthropists of the Year award in 1990 and the Distinguished Civil Service award from the Huron Chamber of Commerce in 1991.
The Christens have two grown daughters and four grandchildren.