Northern Alumnus to be Keynote Speaker at Graduation

     On the morning of May 9, 2015, hundreds of Northern State University students will proudly march across the stage in caps, gowns, tassels, and Master’s hoods to receive their diplomas. In attendance to celebrate the milestone with them will be the spring graduation keynote speaker, accomplished Northern alumnus Dr. Michael J. Bina.
     As a significant figure in the special education field, Dr. Bina currently serves as President and chief executive officer for The Maryland School for the Blind and has helped it flourish since 2008.
     Born and raised in New Effington, SD, Dr. Bina pursued many different schools of learning at Northern. He graduated in 1969, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education with a major in English and a minor in physical education. It was during his time at NSU that Dr. Bina gained interest in his current field, when he worked as a swimming instructor at the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
     After graduation, Dr. Bina enlisted in the U.S. Army Special Forces, where he served as a Green Beret Military Intelligence Officer. During this time, he received the Army Commendation Medal, which is awarded to those distinguished by heroism or laudable achievement or service.
     Following his military career, Dr. Bina pursued special education at California State University – Los Angeles, earning a master’s degree (1973) in the Teaching of Visual Impairment and Orientation and Mobility. Seven years later, at the University of Northern Colorado, he secured his Doctorate of Education degree, specializing in special education administration.

Photo Courtesy of NSU Website
Photo Courtesy of NSU Website

     With his extensive background in special education, Dr. Bina has served as President of Hadley School for the Blind and The Council of Schools for the Blind as well as held leadership positions at Perkins Schools for the Blind, Metrolina Association for the Blind, Texas School for the Blind, and Indiana School for the Blind. He also previously worked as Orientation and Mobility instructor and boys and girls swimming, track, and cross country coach at the Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped.
     Dr. Bina is an active board member of The Maryland School for the Blind, VisionServe Alliance, and the Blind Judo Foundation. He has written extensively about the education of blind students and has received numerous awards for his contributions to the special education field. He was honored by former President Jimmy Carter and was invited to the White House by former President Bill Clinton for the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
     Dr. Bina will deliver the commencement speech for Northern’s spring 2015 commencement ceremony, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Barnett Center. Tickets are not required and seating is open to the public.

Erin Ballard
Staff Writer