Nichols shares vision for BHSU during Presidential Celebration

Kimberly Talcott, Coordinator of News and Media Relations

SPEARFISH, S.D. – State and community leaders joined Black Hills State University in February to celebrate the appointment of Dr. Laurie S. Nichols as the University’s 11th President.


Since her arrival on campus in July in an interim capacity, Nichols has actively built relationships with surrounding communities and area leaders, learned about needs of employers, and worked with faculty and staff to improve academic offerings and university services.


Dr. Joan Wink, Regent, chaired the BHSU Presidential Search Committee that recommended Nichols be retained as the permanent BHSU President. She was the first of several community members, faculty, staff, students, and alumni to provide personal congratulations to Nichols at the ceremony.


“Laurie, your ability to empower others to seek a common goal, and your attention to continuous quality improvement will serve this University well,” said Wink during the celebration on Feb. 3.


More than 300 people filled the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union for the celebration. Mayor Dana Boke officially welcomed Nichols to Spearfish.


“Since we first met and started working together, I’ve watched and admired your ability to connect with people,” said Boke. “I know we will continue to build and strengthen the relationship between the University and the community.”


Dr. Paul B. Beran, executive director and CEO of the S.D. Board of Regents, presented Nichols with the BHSU Presidential Medallion, engraved with the names of all previous BHSU Presidents.

Beran noted that Nichols’ experience, determination, optimism, and collaborative management approach will serve the University well.


“You have the task of bringing BHSU to the next level. We believe you are up to that task,” said Beran. “We look for you to carry out the mission of the University, to recognize new possibilities, and seize the opportunities that may arise from these possibilities.”


Nichols then addressed the campus community, approaching the day’s celebration and her service as President with both honor and humility. She shared her history as a lifelong educator: as a secondary teacher, professor, dean, provost, and president. She also thanked the Board of Regents and the University for trusting in her leadership, along with recognizing the leadership of past BHSU Presidents.


Nichols shared her aspirations for BHSU and her commitment to “enhancing the University’s standing as a place where gifted faculty focus on teaching and mentoring the rising generation to become engaged citizens and tomorrow’s leaders.”


She outlined three central tenets she will use in working to create a vision of BHSU for the next decade:

  • First, that BHSU embrace its mission as a public, regional institution whose role is to provide access to a higher education and in doing so, to serve as an economic engine for the region.
  • Second, that BHSU must be a diverse and democratic community—open, and highly accessible, especially to the citizens of South Dakota and those who need BHSU the most;
  • Third, that members of the BHSU community will seek out, encourage, and value all voices.

“Our mission is to improve the world through education. Our ambition at BHSU is to live our mission well, to be a university that is student-centered, intellectually challenging, locally and regionally engaged,” said Nichols. “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this special university forward.”