With 2020 just two days old, Black Hills State University looks back on the just-finished decade by celebrating the successes of 2019 and ushering in a bright future with a new President at the helm.
Here are the Top 10 BHSU Moments of 2019:
1. Nichols named the 11th President of BHSU
It was announced Dec. 20 that Dr. Laurie Stenberg Nichols would become the permanent President of BHSU, the 11th person in history to fill the university’s top role. President Nichols is known across campus as an open and decisive leader focused on enrollment stabilization and growth. She was named BHSU Interim President this summer and went to work July 1 meeting with campus and community groups to align programs to tomorrow’s regional workforce needs. Nichols said, “I was delighted to return to my home state of South Dakota last July and have enjoyed these six months as interim president of BHSU. During this time, I have come to appreciate the vital role that BHSU plays in western South Dakota in providing access to higher education and serving as an economic engine for the region.”
2. Nearly 600 earned degrees from BHSU this year
Black Hills State University awarded 576 degrees in 2019. The fall graduation ceremony included the presentation of an honorary doctorate to BHSU alum Dr. Brett Theeler, deputy chief of the Department of Neurology at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Theeler delivered a memorable speech to graduates. Yellow Jacket pride was heard throughout the fall graduation ceremony with one university official commenting that the crowd was the most enthusiastic he had heard in his 40 years of attending BHSU commencement ceremonies. BHSU alums from the Class of 2019 are landing jobs and internships thanks to their degrees: ◾Special education major Makenzie Skovlund was hired to open the first autism classroom in Sturgis
◾Mass communications major Jace Wilts was hired at a manufacturing company in Minnesota after completing his internship there the summer previous.
◾Business major Collin Powers earned $43K in three months during his internship after graduation, and is now recruiting fellow BHSU alums for his company
3. Record-breaking Capital Campaign positively impacts student scholarships
The year 2019 marked the conclusion of the largest fundraising campaign in the university’s 136-year history. Earlier this month it was announced that BHSU raised over $45 million during the “Because of You, Anything is Possible” Capital Campaign. The majority of funds raised will benefit BHSU student scholarships. The $45 million total was nearly double the initial goal for the campaign, showing overwhelming commitment and support for the university.
4. Accreditation success in Education and Business programs
This year BHSU received two important confirmations of the university’s academic quality. In January, BHSU was the first institution in South Dakota to receive accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This means BHSU has met rigorous, internationally recognized standards to ensure excellence in the University’s teacher preparation programs. That announcement was followed in February by the announcement of an earned extension of AACSB accreditation (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), earned by only five percent of the world’s business schools.
5. Student Success
BHSU provides many services to assist students in successfully achieving their degree. In 2019, BHSU expanded career development outreach to students and regional employers. Student Support Services, which focuses on supporting first-generation students, students with a disability, and/or low income students exceeded their goals in retaining students and helping them reach graduation.
6. Growth at the BHSU Underground Campus at Sanford Lab
This year, BHSU doubled the number of local middle schools involved in the 4th annual Underground Robotics Competition at Sanford Lab. BHSU students also worked with engineers and scientists from around the world on the cutting-edge LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) Dark Matter Experiment.
7. New academic programs
Black Hills State University debuted three new academic offerings in 2019, including:
◾Certificate in Adventure Education geared toward employees at area programs and camps or in corporate teambuilding, along with students enrolled in tourism and hospitality, psychology, sociology, human services, and exercise sciences programs,
◾Master’s in Special Education for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than education and who want to teach special education,
◾and the Corporate Communication degree is now also offered online.
8. Electric car and Bee Campus USA further sustainability commitment
The year 2019 saw the unveiling of the BHSU Electric Car showcasing the ease, efficiency, and savings of electric vehicles. BHSU was also named a Bee Campus USA 2019 and continues to offer an online master’s in sustainability.
9. New collaboration brings international students to BHSU
Students from Pakistan and Tunisia attended BHSU this year thanks to a new collaboration with the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan and the Tunisia Undergraduate Scholarship Program. The programs promote a better understanding of the U.S. abroad, particularly among future world leaders.
10. BHSU athletics ranked nationally
The BHSU Women’s Rodeo Team is currently ranked first in the nation. The Women and Men’s Rodeo Teams competed at the College National Finals Rodeo this summer, with Carlee Johnston placing third in the All-Around competition.
Cross Country Coach Scott Walkinshaw was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame. Jonah Theisen placed second in the steeplechase at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships and earned the first NCAA post-graduate scholarship in BHSU history. Triathlon placed third at the Women’s Collegiate National Championship.