Since 2014, Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., president of Black Hills State University, has provided leadership and vision for the University which has significantly enhanced the teaching and learning environment and continues to create additional opportunities for students. President Jackson has focused the vision of the University by inspiring faculty, staff and students to dream big and believe that BHSU is a place “Where Anything is Possible.” By combining the area’s traditions with an innovative outlook, Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., has connected the University’s legacy with its future in the vibrant dynamic community of Spearfish, South Dakota.
A first generation student himself, Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., is an inspiration to the many BHSU students who are the first in their families to graduate from a higher educational institution. As a veteran, who still serves in the Indiana Guard Reserve, President Jackson, has strengthened the University’s ties with military and veteran personnel in the entire state and he is committed to providing educational opportunities for military personnel.
President Jackson’s extensive international experience has opened doors for increased study abroad and service learning programs and the addition of new international partners including the first ever with a university on the African continent – in Gaborone, Botswana.
An inspirational and motivational speaker, Dr. Tom Jackson is often requested to present at regional, national and international events.
University Accomplishments and Initiatives:
- Advanced research opportunities at the BHSU Underground Campus at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, one of the only underground campuses in the world. Increased grant dollars to more than $4.1 million.
- Created additional educational opportunities in the state’s second largest city, by strengthening and rebranding the BHSU-Rapid City location. More than 1,100 students currently take classes in Rapid City.
- Reached a record level of internationalization and global engagement including increases in the number of BHSU students participating in study abroad and service-learning programs. Increased the number of international partnerships to 23. Established global service learning sites in the Philippines and Botswana and encouraged faculty and student participation in an international research symposium at Botho University in Botswana.
- Encourages faculty and staff to identify, plan, and implement service learning as well as educational and cultural outreach throughout the community, the region, state, the nation and the world. BHSU has increased its presence in the community including membership on a diverse group of boards and committees as well as civic clubs and service organizations.
- Advanced the University’s sustainable practices. Implemented the first phase of a campus tree revitalization plan, solar/alternative energies plan, and updated the campus’ Climate Action Plan.
- Enhanced opportunities for military education including a reduced tuition pilot program in Rapid City that has now been expanded throughout the state.
- Ensured BHSU continues to be recognized nationally for service to military students including designation as Military Friendly Schools by Victory Media, Military Times “Best for Vets for Business Schools,” and the Military Times “Best for Vets: Colleges.”
- Instituted new scholarship programs to provide funding for local students including the Northern Hills Scholarship, Southern Hills Scholarship, Jacket Incentive, Housing Scholarships, Dual Credit and the President’s Medallion scholarship which was created with donations generated from President Jackson’s inauguration.
- Refocused marketing and admissions efforts which led to an all-time high in the number of applicants.
- Established retail/marketing locations, JacketZone stores, in Spearfish, Rapid City and Sioux Falls that have increased BHSU presence across the state while providing alternative streams of revenue.
- Strengthened the Honors Program to inspire significant growth in enrollment and programming. Graduated the first International University Honor’s Scholar fall 2016.
- Enhanced the University’s strong legacy of providing educational opportunities for American Indians. BHSU has the largest proportion of Native American students among the South Dakota Regental institutions.
- Premiered an option to earn a degree for less than $15,000 by creating an innovative course sequence which includes a significant number of Dual Credit courses.
- 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 state-of-the art Sanford Science Education Center; establishment of the Admissions Welcome Center; the opening of the Joy (Proctor) the 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 and connection for bicyclist and pedestrians.
- Continues to advance Yellow Jacket NCAA Division II athletics which has resulted in three Yellow Jacket national championship titles, third place national finish for the women’s rodeo team, and national recognition for exceptional GPAs. Added two additional two sports - women’s soccer and women’s triathlon.
- Led the BHSU Foundation and the Yellow Jacket Foundation in raising a record $19 million dollars since 2014 for the University.
- Actively involved in the American Association of State College and Universities. Served on the New President’s Advisory, as Chair of the national Sustainable Development Committee, and a member of the international committee.
- Oversaw record setting graduation rates since 2014.
Prior to BHSU, President Jackson has held leadership roles at several 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 2009-2010, serving as the elected CEO and spokesman for 8,500 student development professionals from 27 countries and 1,300 institutions.
President 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 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), 19 and a freshmen at BHSU, and Chandi, 15. He enjoys flying as a private instrument-rated pilot, travel, movies, and college sports.