Community members add to classroom dynamic through BHSU Visitor Pass program

Author: Rachel Ireland/Thursday, January 16, 2014/Categories: 2014

 Sandra Addy, left, and Harlene Hill, listen to Dr. Sasha Pursley, associate professor of history, during a Modern European History class the two took through the University's Visitor Pass program last spring.
Adam Merchen loves history, whether it is history books, movies or simply someone relaying a story of a historical event.

The students in Kelly Kirk&rsquos U.S. History course were able to see Merchen&rsquos enthusiasm firsthand during the fall semester. Merchen, a resident of the Northern Hills Training Center, was one of several community members who were able to expand their knowledge through the Black Hills State University Visitor Pass program.

A Visitor Pass, issued for $100 per class, allows community members who are not registered at BHSU to observe classes on a space available basis. Each person is allowed to take up to two classes per semester without the need to complete assignments or tests.

"The program brings in different perspectives and brings in different experiences that add to the class environment," said Kirk, a BHSU instructor of history. "It shows students that there is interest in these classes and materials beyond just academic."

Merchen, who attended every class except for test days, displayed a passion for history, Kirk said.

"It was really fun having him in class."

Community members have a chance to attend any of the more than 200 courses that are available with the Visitor Pass from accounting and business finance to art appreciation and early American Indian history and culture.  

"The Visitor Pass provides residents of the region the opportunity to expand the depth and breadth of their interests and be exposed to the outstanding faculty members leading the innovative high-quality educational opportunities at Black Hills State University," said BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp.

Past Visitor Pass participants include Sandra Addy and Harlene Hill who met while attending BHSU nearly 60 years ago. The two were college roommates in the 1950s and decided to return to school through the Visitor Pass program.

To obtain a Visitor Pass for the spring semester contact Johanna Best at 642-6044. For more information about the Visitor Pass or to browse a list of spring 2014 courses that are eligible see

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