Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

A Gift of Presidential Proportions

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

A Gift of Presidential Proportions

Article excerpt

Nobody understood why Bruce King took a job at the University of South Dakota. But the decision may have saved his life.

Some of his friends thought he "was foolish to become the chief diversity officer at the University of South Dakota in March of 2005.

"Why South Dakota?" Bruce King says his friends would ask "There aren't any Black folk there."

To them, the concept of a Black man from the South Side of Chicago moving to a state and working at a university that were both less than 2 percent Black was unthinkable.

However, after two tumultuous years, King now knows and advises "many of us need to start opening our minds and ourselves to new possibilities. Because you never know what kind of gifts you will receive in return."

King received the ultimate gift for opening his mind - a second chance at life.

Two months after taking the position in Vermillion, S.D., King, 44, was diagnosed with renal kidney failure.

For almost two years, he tried to fight it off with dialysis. It didn't work

Chemotherapy was used next It didn't work

A new kidney became his last resort

He needed a donor.

To King's surprise, the donor emerged from the highest office of the very university that some had urged him not to go. USD President James W. Abbott donated his kidney to King, who received it in a successful three-hour operation at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in early June.

Abbott, a former state lawmaker and gubernatorial candidate, returned to work a week later. King stayed at the clinic until the end of June; took July off to rest and returned to USD on a part-time basis Aug. I, King says that everything so fer is going well.

"The kidney is a good match for my body and there has been no apparent signs of rejection or reaction," says King, who is taking anti-rejection medications and a cocktail of other necessary drugs.

Even though he says his health is progressing, he says he's still amazed that the life-saving kidney came from "a White guy from South Dakota." Abbott was born in Irene, S.D., a town of about 400 residents. King, meanwhile, hails from Chicago, a city that is dosing in on three million residents.

His friends don't believe it either.

"People really couldn't comprehend it," King says. "It blows my mind and blows everyone's mind that I tell, even my barber. …

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