Enrollment at Black Hills State University is down slightly this year paralleling enrollment trends across the state and region. This fall 4,035 students are enrolled at BHSU.
BHSU officials noted that many factors, including fewer high school graduates in the region, record-breaking graduation numbers in recent years, and a strong regional economy with low unemployment rates as factors affecting university enrollment.
“Regionally, enrollment at universities continues to show a decline. BHSU has a slight decline in overall enrollment this year too,” BHSU President Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., said. “This was an expected dip in enrollment that reflects our record increase in the number of students who graduated recently.”
Over the last six years, BHSU has had record-breaking numbers of students graduating, which is the ultimate goal for the students and the university.
“We want to see students be successful and reach their goal of earning their diploma. That’s our goal,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Chris Crawford said. “We are not replacing students as quickly as we are graduating them. We are concentrating on providing the best educational experience for each and every one of our students by creating an environment that encourages their success. Every time a student earns their diploma, it’s an opportunity for that graduate to achieve their dreams and have a positive impact on society.”
Enrollment numbers were on par with predictions for this fall, said Jackson, noting that BHSU continues to struggle to recruit students in western South Dakota. Jackson said the university is evaluating nationwide demographic trends and reaching out to prospective students in new geographic regions.
“We need to continue to find ways to inspire students in Rapid City and western South Dakota to pursue higher education while deliberately reaching out to new markets and broadening and strengthening our online curriculum,” Jackson said.
Recent efforts by the university to increase dual credit enrollments, emphasize graduate studies and the University Honors Program, and recruit students from neighboring states are seeing success.
Dual credit enrollments, or high school students taking university courses, are at an all-time high for the university. Strong enrollment growth was also seen in Montana, where BHSU introduced in-state tuition this spring. And, BHSU graduate programs saw an increase of 26 percent this fall.
The BHSU Honors Program has also seen growth. Currently, there are 115 Honors scholars actively involved in multidisciplinary research, community service and projects like the Veterans Legacy Program, and global service learning and research programs.
“At the end of the day we are still Black Hills State, a university with a ‘can-do’ spirit and exceptional people doing extraordinary things every day,” Jackson said.
Enrollment in the South Dakota Board of Regents, which includes six state universities including BHSU, was down as well.
Black Hills State University is the only comprehensive university in western South Dakota. BHSU is a masters-level state university with students from all 64 counties in South Dakota, 43 states, and 29 countries. The campus leads the region in environmental sustainability efforts and maintains top academic programs in business (AACSB accredited), exercise science, natural sciences, social sciences, the arts, mass communication, health sciences and education. The university provides academic programs through three colleges, the College of Business and Natural Sciences, the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, and the College of Liberal Arts. Founded in 1883 as a school for preparing teachers, BHSU is located in the northern Black Hills, a region abundant with outdoor activity and culture.
BHSU was recently recognized by:
- Best Value Schools for affordable and quality business and education programs
- Military Times for Best Colleges 2018
- Winds of Change as one of the Top 200 Colleges for Native Americans
- Collegechoice.net as one of the Best Colleges and Universities for Outdoor Adventurers
Spearfish, located in the western part of South Dakota, is recognized as one of the top 10 most livable small towns in the USA and has also been recognized nationally for outdoor recreational opportunities. A second location, BHSU-RC, was established in Rapid City, South Dakota’s second-largest city. BHSU, a member of NCAA Division II athletics, offers 14 men’s and women’s sports, and has a legacy of champion rodeo teams.Read
the S.D. Board of Regents Fall 2018 Enrollment News Release