Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

BHSU welcomes new president

Elliott will officially transition to his new role over winter break
Skott Chandler
New BHSU President Steve Elliott addresses crowd at welcome reception at the Joy Center on Nov. 28.

The South Dakota Board of Regents announced that Steve Elliott will become Dr. Laurie Nichols’ successor as president of Black Hills State University. The announcement was made Nov. 16.

Elliott will officially assume his new role Dec. 22 amid the winter break before the Spring 2024 semester begins. Elliott was selected above three other finalists by the South Dakota Board of Regents after careful consideration of reports on each candidate provided by ambassadors representing BHSU students and staff members.

“I feel great about [Elliott],” Nichols said. “I’m impressed with him and I think he’s going to be a really good fit for BH.”

Nichols was allotted approximately an hour and a half to interview Elliott during the on-campus interview process Nov. 13-14. During that time she gave him a brief tour of the campus, the presidential house and other areas; they also spoke about the future of BHSU.

“One of the things that we did spend time talking about was enrollment because that has been a big challenge for [BHSU],” Nichols said. “We also talked about academic programs. We have actually started working on that, and we’ve identified eight new majors that we would like to start [at BHSU] in the next few years.”

Elliot was officially welcomed to the BHSU community Nov. 28. The day ended with a banquet held at the Joy Center. Elliott, speaking to a standing-room-only crowd, expressed his eagerness to take on the new position.

“I’m very much looking forward to the work,” Elliott said. “I think Laurie is a phenomenal leader to follow. Things are really in a good
place right now. I’m being left a really clean shop that I’m going to be able to get some good work done in.”

Outgoing BHSU President Laurie Nichols, along with senior members of her administrative team, were in attendance to welcome Elliott. Once his official start date arrives, he will become only the twelfth president in BHSU history.

Elliott comes to BHSU after serving in various capacities at Wayne State College in Nebraska. Currently, he is the Vice President of Student Affairs. Prior to his stint at Wayne State, Elliott served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps before pursuing a degree in fine arts.

“I enlisted in the Marine Corps right out of high school,” Elliott said. “I did a four-year active duty tour, spent about a year on three different ships, I was all over the world, went to twenty different countries and was with the twenty-fourth Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations at the time. Then, University of Kansas, I went in-state for my Bachelor of Fine Arts and Sculpture, and went to pursue my Master of Fine Arts at the University of Maryland.”

Elliott believes his background in art gives him a unique perspective when analyzing the effectiveness of a university’s overall operations. Much of his new role will be focused on improving the student experience at BHSU, a task he is well versed in after his most recent position at Wayne State.

“[Like] the critique of the art piece – you know – when I talk with students it’s about finding out what’s working and what isn’t working. If we can identify what’s working – the positives, our strengths, those things that are going to help – and look at offsetting some of the things that we maybe need to work on or need to improve. I think by simultaneously identifying those strengths and
weaknesses we’ll be able to move the campus forward and improve the student experience overall.”

Although recruiting and retaining quality students is a foundational aspect of any university, Elliott also faces challenges specific to BHSU – mainly the historical funding gap from the Board of Regents relative to peer regional institutions within the state. A number of complaints have also been voiced by members of the student body regarding fundamental aspects that negatively impact quality of life.

“Campus housing, parking and food services – all of which are issues that affect the culture on campus and the student experience – are all areas that I really want to assess,” Elliott said. “I’m committed to making sure that we are hearing from our constituents and hearing from students. I want to make sure those concerns are heard and that we are addressing them the best way we possibly can.”

Elliott is confident in the team he is inheriting, but he ultimately believes that his success or failure as BHSU president lies with him.

“I’m taking full responsibility as the leader of Black Hills State University, so that is our successes and our failures,” Elliot said. “I want us all to be successful, and I’m going to need everyone’s help here to make that happen. I’m looking forward to working with everyone and moving Black Hills State to the next level.”

About the Contributor
Nathan Feller, Editor-in-Chief