Peyton Yates establishes scholarship honoring Alvis Lisenbee

Professor Alvis Lisenbee has been honored with the establishment of an endowed scholarsihp in his name. The prestigious Alvis Lisenbee Scholarship is one of the best SD Mines has to offer, and it will go to a student majoring in geology. Halle Bower was selected as the first recipient.

Although he spent most of his childhood in New Mexico and most of his professional career in South Dakota, Alvis is proud to describe himself as a Texan by birth and Turkish by adoption. His family roots in Texas were five generations deep when he was born in the panhandle in 1940. In 1948, his family moved to southeastern New Mexico, where his father began work in the oil fields.

At the University of New Mexico, Alvis considered studying history and archaeology, but suspected that limited occupational opportunities existed there. In courses of geology, he found history on a broader scale. Family trips across the U.S., childhood reading in the World Book Encyclopedia, and travel books, fostered Alvis' love for travel. During his doctoral work at Penn State University, he seized the opportunity to travel to Turkey for his dissertation research. His work there was involved with aspects of what at the time was the newly developing theory of plate tectonics. The day after their wedding in 1968, Alvis, his bride and her son moved to a small rural town in northwestern Turkey. In later years he made many trips to Turkey, including a year as a Fulbright professor, and he refers to the country as his second home.

After receiving his Ph.D. in 1972, Alvis joined the faculty of the Department of Geology and Geological Engineerng at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He taught several hundred undergraduate and graduate students over the course of 34 years, finding great satisfaction both from the geology he studied and the students and colleagues with whom he worked. Alvis' career in geology has given him many rewards over the years. A particularly enjoyable aspect of his career has been geology field work with graduate students and as a consultant in Turkey, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Venezuela, and Iran. A special highlight has been many summers spent teach field geology with the SD Mines Black Hills National Sciences Field Station at field camps in the Black Hills, the western U.S. and in Turkey.

Sharing knowledge of his understanding of the earth with students has been a passion for Alvis from his days as a teaching assistant through his professorship at SD Mines. Seeing the accomplishments and success of his students, and enjoying lasting friendships with many of them, continues to be a source of pleasure. His hope is that recipients of his scholarship may find careers as rewarding as the one which he has been privileged to enjoy.

The endowment was created with a gift by a long-time personal friend, Peyton Yates, President of PY Foundation. Peyton wishes to recognize and honor Dr. Lisenbee for his dedication to Mines and its students with the establishment of the endowed scholarship in his name.