Honors Ceremony Introduction (Youtube)
Honors Ceremony Speech (YouTube)
“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” ― Thomas A. Edison
Born in Langdon, North Dakota and raised in Sarles, North Dakota, Pat is the daughter of C.J. (Pat) Olson and Esther Porter Olson. Her father was a Great Northern depot agent and farmer, her mother a community volunteer as well as the caregiver for the extended family. Pat has one sister Marlys Olson Dow.
She attended grade school and high school in Sarles, ND where her class of 13 (first grade – 12th grade) was the largest ever graduated. Like many rural communities, Sarles no longer has a school.
Pat was introduced to music at a young age by her mother. By the time she was in 7th grade, it was necessary to drive 80 – 90 miles each week to take piano lessons. While in high school, her piano teacher convinced her parents that Pat needed to be exposed to other talented students. She then competed in music contests in Canada where everyone performed the same piece and the judges commented publically on each performer. That was both intimidating and exhilarating for the young student. She credits that experience with teaching her that discipline and hard work were connected to opportunity.
In high school, there were additional opportunities available to broaden the horizons of students. While attending Girls’ State and the North Dakota Know Your State contest, Pat became friends with students from around the state. Several of these became life-long friends.
Pat attended the University of North Dakota and received a B.S. in 1963. After graduation, she taught music in Northwood, ND and at North Junior High School in Rapid City, SD. She spent a number of years teaching both piano and voice to private students.
In 1979, Pat began work on a M.B.A. at the University of South Dakota’s program at the South Nike Site for Ellsworth Air Force Base. That was a life-changing opportunity. The program was established to allow the officers at the Minuteman Missile sites to earn advanced degrees and in the mid-70’s was opened to civilians. The availability of the educational opportunity for students in western South Dakota to earn a degree without moving was important. Pat became a strong advocate of taking education to place bound students. She received her M.B.A. in 1983.
In 1984, as the first executive director of the Rapid City Symphony Orchestra, Pat worked to book the conductor’s choice of guest artists to perform with the orchestra and to raise funds to support the orchestra. She initiated a season program book for the orchestra that became a major source of funds and also established various categories for financial support. She also worked with the Rapid City Symphony League to promote their fundraising activities. There were many lessons on how to work with people.
In 1986, Dr. Joseph Simmons, director of the M.B.A. program at EAFB, invited Pat to join him in setting up a money management business. That was a wonderful opportunity! Pat worked to build a reporting and management system for the business.
Lebrun Investment Management, Inc. was established in 1988 with Pat Lebrun as President and has been operating since.
Another opportunity of a lifetime became available In July 1986. The state law prohibiting individuals residing in a county of a state educational institution to serve on the Board of Regents was repealed. Governor George S. Mickelson had new appointments to make to the South Dakota Board of Regents. In March 1987, Pat was the first regent to be appointed to the Board from Pennington County and went on to serve on the Board of Regents for 18 years, until March 2005.
During her tenure on the Board of Regents, Pat served in all the board’s officer positions including two terms as board president. She chaired both the Finance and Academic Affairs Committees and chaired and/or served on search committees for University Presidents and the System Executive Director. During her tenure on the board, management systems were developed for the South Dakota System of Higher Education which gave all the different university components a voice before important initiatives are undertaken.
Research and its capacity to expand and improve the economy of South Dakota has been a very important concept for Pat. In 1987, externally supported research at the public universities was almost non-existent and it was believed that South Dakota universities should be “teaching” not “research” universities. The Research Excellence: A Critical Hallmark (REACH) committee was established in 1989 and led to the South Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCOR) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Pat was a member of the initial committee from 1992 – 2004 and has been a member of the successor committee, the South Dakota 2010 Research and Commercialization Council and its REACH committee since 2004.
As a result of the initiatives to expand research at the universities, research has increased from $400,000 in 1987 to $146,000,000 in 2012.
Another opportunity arrived in 2004 when the South Dakota Science & Technology Authority (SDSTA) was established. Governor Rounds appointed Pat to the board where she continues to serve and is currently secretary-treasurer. The SDSTA with the assistance of South Dakota, T. Denny Sanford, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has established the Sanford Underground Research Facility which is a world class research laboratory at the Homestake Gold Mine in Lead.
As an advocate for a dynamic research enterprise at the universities, Pat participated in the American Association for the Advancement of Science AAS Invitational Conference on Assessing Research Competitiveness, April, 1995 and the EPSCoR Program Effectiveness Review, NSF, South Dakota EPSCoR Program Review Team, December, 1997.
Lebrun participated in the U.S. Army War College National Security Seminar, Invitational Conference in June 1996 and the Wharton/IRHE Pilot Program on Managing Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania in November 1996.
She has served on the Policy and Priorities Committee of the Education Commission of the States, Rushmore Bank & Trust board of directors, the Rapid City Frontiers “Forging Our Future” steering committee, and the Governor’s Task Force on Education.
Pat has been married to Gene Lebrun, a 2012 Hall of Fame inductee, for 50 years. They have two sons. Mike lives in Rockville, MD with his wife Elizabeth and children Katherine, Nicholas, and Anna. Ken lives in Tokyo, Japan with his wife Laurie and children Sylvan and Max.