Lesta Turchen, of Hill City, is the newest member of the Dakota Wesleyan University Board of Trustees.
Turchen spent 20 years at DWU, serving as an associate professor of history from 1972 to 1992, and vice president for academic affairs and dean from 1987 to 1992. Turchen then spent a decade as the system chief academic officer for the South Dakota Board of Regents from 1996 to 2006.
Currently, she serves as president of the board of directors for the South Dakota State Railroad Museum.
Throughout her professional career, she has worked closely with several university boards and has also served on the board of directors for a Texas hospital, the Texas Chamber of Commerce, the International Technology Development Association, a museum, a preservation association and a historical society.
She was appointed to the South Dakota Archives Board by Gov. Harvey Wollman, the South Dakota State Library Board by Gov. Mike Rounds and later reappointed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard. She served six years on the South Dakota State Library Board, including three as president.
In 2006, she received the University of South Dakota Alumni Achievement Award for Outstanding Service in a Profession or Career.
Turchen was born in Mullan, Idaho and later moved to Rapid City where she graduated from Central High School.
She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Dakota in 1966 before going on to earn her master’s, also from USD in 1969, and her Ph.D from Purdue University in 1972.
She is married to her husband Michael and resides in Hill City.
Turchen and her husband support the DWU Turchen Family Endowed Scholarship and have given generously to support renovations to the Dakota Discovery Museum, as well as the new Women of Wesleyan space in the new DWU School of Business, Innovation and Leadership.