Crazy Horse Foundation fills new leadership position
Crazy Horse Memorial continues to make exciting advancements with each passing year. To help keep up with the ever-increasing demands resulting from this growth, a new executive leadership appointment has been made by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.
Dr. Laurie Becvar, senior associate provost and graduate school dean at the University of South Dakota, will become Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation’s new president and chief operating officer in July.
She will report to Ruth Ziolkowski, sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski’s wife who remains at the Memorial’s helm as chief executive officer. Ruth’s daughters Jadwiga Ziolkowski and Monique Ziolkowski will continue to serve as executive vice president and director of mountain operations, respectively.
“We warmly welcome Laurie and we look forward to working with her,” Ruth Ziolkowski said on behalf of her family and the Memorial’s staff.
“Laurie Becvar is a highly qualified and motivated individual with a passion for Crazy Horse,” Board Chairman John Rozell of Sioux Falls said May 3. “She brings the skill set and experience needed to help continue the stellar operational performance exhibited at the Memorial over the past number of decades. She will be a great asset for the Ziolkowski family and the Foundation in accomplishing the Crazy Horse dream and all that it stands for.”
The nonprofit Memorial honors the historic heritage and living traditions of North America’s Indian people. The Memorial holds that education is the key to fostering understanding and reconciliation, as well as in assisting Native Americans to maintain vital cultures.
To establish its long-planned Indian University of North America, the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation turned to the University of South Dakota for assistance. Chairman Rozell said Dr. Becvar, as lead developer, has been instrumental in the success of the new university and its students.
“I was immediately inspired by the Crazy Horse story and mission,” Dr. Becvar said.
“I find Crazy Horse to be a place of faith, imagination and fortitude, where all people are accepted and inspired to fulfill their dreams. It is a South Dakota and North American treasure and I am honored and privileged to be a part of its progress.”
Over three years, 68 Native American and non-Native students have completed the 8½- to 10-week summer program that offers freshman-level math, English and Native Studies courses. Native American students completing the 2012 classes “significantly surpassed state and national averages” on college readiness tests, Dr. Becvar said. The low attrition rates among the students who have remained in college after completing the Crazy Horse summer program the past three years are equally impressive.
Longtime educator Dr. Sid Goss of Rapid City recently told his fellow Crazy Horse Foundation directors that the university’s overall early results are “nothing short of phenomenal.”
The unique program, a partnership involving the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation and USD, is funded privately by the Crazy Horse Centennial Fund endowment established by Muffy and Paul Christen, retired bankers from Huron, SD.
Crazy Horse Memorial began 65 years ago, dedicated on June 3, 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear and several Native American elders, including five Lakota veterans of the 1876 Battle of the Little Big Horn.
Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, established Aug. 16, 1948, is the nonprofit entity governing the nonprofit cultural education project that includes the world’s largest mountain carving in progress. There currently are 26 volunteer directors on the board.