Rounds joins Thune in Introducing Dr. Heather Wilson at SASC Confirmation Hearing

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) today joined Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) in introducing Dr. Heather Wilson at her confirmation hearing to be Secretary of the Air Force. Dr. Wilson has been president of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T) since 2013.

Watch Rounds' reemarks by clicking here

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. Chairman it is my honor to join Senator Thune in supporting Dr. Heather Wilson’s nomination to be the next Secretary of the Air Force.

Senator Thune talked about her record of achievement throughout her life. 


I have known Dr. Wilson, as a leader in South Dakota during the most recent segment of her long and distinguished professional life.


She served in an outstanding fashion as president of one of the most highly rated engineering and science universities in the country for the quality of its education and the success of its graduates- the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.


This school’s success is exemplified by the average starting salaries of its graduates which is higher than the corresponding figures for graduates of Harvard University, Yale University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology


At a time when our nation faces the skyrocketing cost of a college degree, tuition and fees for an out of state student at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is less than $15,000 a year, making it one of the best returns on investment for a college education in America.


Dr. Wilson became president of the School of Mines in the summer of 2013.  She has been a great leader, and, if confirmed to be the next Secretary of the Air Force, she will leave some big shoes to be filled by her successor. 


Under her leadership, the School of Mines added new programs, expanded research, raised funds to build and refurbish buildings, started an honors program, and deepened the connections between the school and the community.


People who work with her in South Dakota describe her as a great manager and inspiring leader, and a tireless advocate for the school and her students.


A few years ago, Forbes Magazine had a story on the toughest leadership roles in America. 


“We revere the skills of prominent CEOs, perhaps more than we should,” said the Forbes article.


“But there’s an underappreciated form of leadership that requires far more skill than being a CEO does.  It’s the job of a university president.”


Dr. Wilson brought such leadership and skill to her position as president of one of the finest science and engineering schools in the nation.


General Mattis knows her quality. 


This explains the multiple requests he made to her to leave a position she finds deeply rewarding and at which she excels, to accept the president’s nomination to be Secretary of the Air Force. 


South Dakota’s loss will be the nation’s gain.


I look forward to this hearing today and to the prompt confirmation of Dr. Wilson as the next Secretary of the Air Force.


I thank her for the honor of introducing her today.