Black Hills State University President Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., has been selected to serve as President of Humboldt State University (HSU) in Arcata, Calif.
An interim president will be chosen soon to lead BHSU while the South Dakota Board of Regents commences a national search for the next permanent president at the Spearfish campus.
Humboldt State University, a comprehensive public university with nearly 600 faculty members and over 8,500 students, offers 51 majors and 12 graduate programs across three colleges.
Jackson noted that it has been an honor to serve as BHSU President and expressed his sincere appreciation for all faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members for working with him over the last five years. “Black Hills State University is a special place with exceptional educational opportunities,” Jackson said. “The Spirit of the Hills that I discovered when I first came to this region makes BHSU a unique place filled with possibilities. The people on campus and in the community are truly inspiring to our students. It has been gratifying to get to know BHSU alumni and students. You are what makes this University special, and your commitment to BHSU will ensure it remains strong well into the future.”
Jackson, who has served as BHSU President since 2014, provided strong leadership and vision for the University. He created an environment for high-quality, innovative academic programs and exceptional learning opportunities. Under his leadership, BHSU earned several accreditation milestones including receiving an extension of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which is held by only five percent of the world’s business schools; being the first university in the state to earn the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accreditation noting BHSU’s excellence in teacher preparation programs; and renewing Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation. Jackson supported the increase in grant dollars to more than $4.1 million. Several new academic programs were added to meet student and workforce needs in the region. BHSU has had a record number of graduates in recent years.
A first generation student himself, Jackson is an inspiration to the many BHSU students who are the first in their families to attend college. During his five years at BHSU, Jackson has enhanced the University’s legacy of providing educational opportunities for American Indians and has formed strong bonds with Tribal universities in the state. His extensive international experience has opened doors for increased study abroad and service learning programs, along with the addition of new international partners. Under Jackson’s leadership, BHSU has increased the University’s presence in the community including membership on a diverse group of boards and committees as well as civic clubs and service organizations.
Jackson oversaw numerous campus facility improvements including the opening of the University’s first new residence hall in 50 years; establishment of the Underground Campus at Sanford Lab; remodeling of Jonas Science to serve as the state-of-the-art Sanford Science Education Center; establishment of the Admissions Welcome Center; the opening of the Joy (Proctor) Krautschun Alumni/Foundation Welcome Center; and enhanced landscaping with the addition of a significant number of trees and creation of a hillside greenspace that improves access. The University was recognized with the Spearfish Chamber of Commerce Business Beautification Award in 2018. Jackson set assertive sustainability goals and updated the campus’ Climate Action Plan.
With Jackson’s leadership, BHSU increased student engagement and organizations, established an aggressive Enrollment Management Plan, created and implemented a Strategic Plan, and developed revised mission, vision, and values statements. Jackson oversaw the completion of the first capital campaign for $26 million and initiated the second campaign currently at $38 million. He is especially gratified that the University was able to award nearly $2 million in scholarships (an increase of 82% in Foundation scholarships since 2014) and create new scholarships for local and regional students.
Jackson placed a priority on strengthening collaborations with all higher learning institutions in the West River region, including the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, the area Tribal Colleges, Western Dakota Technical Institute, Chadron State College, and National American University.
Yellow Jacket Athletics added two additional sports - women’s soccer and women’s triathlon - during Jackson’s tenure. Scholar-athletes earned national recognition for exceptional grade point averages. Since joining NCAA Division II competition in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC), the BHSU Yellow Jackets have earned 71 RMAC All-Academic titles and 438 designations on the Academic Honor Roll. BHSU athletes have also earned two national titles and 22 All-American designations. Jackson expressed his appreciation for the strong community support for BHSU Athletics.
Prior to accepting the presidency at BHSU, Jackson held leadership roles at other universities, including vice president for student affairs at the University of Louisville, vice president for student affairs at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, dean of students at McMurry University, director of the Student Activities Center at the University of Texas-El Paso, academic development specialist at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, area coordinator at the University of Southern California, and assistant director of residence life at St. Mary’s University (San Antonio). He was also president of the American College Personnel Association in 2009-10, serving as the elected CEO and spokesperson for 8,500 student development professionals from 27 countries and 1,300 institutions.
Jackson holds a doctor of education degree in educational management from the University of La Verne in California. He has a master’s degree in counseling/student personnel from Pennsylvania’s Shippensburg University, a bachelor’s degree in business management/personnel from Southwest (Minn.) State University, and an associate’s degree from Highline Community College in Midway, Wash. He is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, Texas State Guard, and Indiana Guard Reserve.
Originally from Seattle, Wash., Jackson is married to Mona Kumar Jackson. They have two children: Thomas (TJ), 21, and Chandi, 18, a freshman at BHSU. He enjoys flying as a private, multi-engine instrument-rated pilot, travel, movies, and college sports.