History of the University Uncovered Through Findings

Katie Hartnell, Contributing Writer

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Black Hills State University was founded as The Dakota Territorial Normal School in 1983. By the end of itsfirst year there were 40 students that focused primarily on learning how to properly teach and how to hold a teaching position in the region.

Today, BHSU has over 4,000 students in attendancefor various degrees, including – but not limited to – teaching, communications, art, biology and math. As a school, BHSU has come a long way from its founding in 1983 but some things may remain the same.

A few months ago, Dr. Jim Hess, Professor of Psychology purchased some documents at an auction that detailed what life might have been for students back in the start of the 1900s. The packet included documents on things such as tuition cost and room and board. There were also a few letters from A.D. Humbert to fellow teachers and students.

The documents are all dated in the early 1900s when it was still the beginning of BHSU start of the college.At the that time the school was called The Spearfish Normal School. There is a receipt for the school detailing that the cost of tuition in 1916 was only nine dollars a semester-eighteen dollars for a year. This is before room and board, which cost $30 for a year. When compared to the cost of tuition today found at bhsu.edu, the yearly estimated cost for tuition is $7,617 without anything else included. When tuition is calculated with books, fees, meal plans and rooming expenses costs, it totals $14, 662 for an in-state student.

Some important facts which have to be taken in account, are that the cost of living today and the way people lived in the past. The living standards in South Dakota have changed. According to costofliving.com, nine dollars in the 1900’s then would amount today to a total of $180.63 today. That is just about what it costs for a credit hour, which is $253.90 with fees. It really doesn’t seem like it was that big of a jump from then to now because of rising costs and the change in cost of living due to new inventions like the Internet.

One thing is certain – BHSU has become a more diverse and internationally known as a university that caters to a broader audience. The student population is more diverse, not only in major but in origin, as well – with students coming from multiple continents and a variety of cultures. Black Hills State University is a pillar of the Spearfish community – now and in the 1900s.

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